After Facebook photo goes viral, woman from NC finds surfboard hand-shaped by her late brother

North Carolina news

Tiffany Hartsfield Brand (left) and her brother DJ Hartsfield, who died unexpectedly in January.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – After word spread on social media that Tiffany Brand was searching for her late brother’s surfboard, a man has reached out to Tiffany to get her brother’s prized possession back in her hands.

A Wilmington man saw WECT’s story and reached out to Tiffany on Facebook, saying he’s been surfing on the board shaped by Tiffany’s brother DJ for about three years. The man said it is his favorite board, and is happy to return it free of charge.

From the other side of the country, Brand was searching for a surfboard last seen at a pawn shop off Market Street several years ago.

Her Facebook post earlier this month has spread across the world and garnered thousands of shares.

This isn’t any board though. It belonged to her brother, DJ Hartsfield, who died unexpectedly in January.

“My brother’s loss is still very fresh for my family and it’s been very hard for us,” said Brand, who also grew up in Wilmington but now lives in San Jose, California.

She describes her brother as a kind, talented man with a big heart, and a love for the ocean.

The surfboard meant a little extra to DJ because he made it. More than a decade ago, he hand shaped it over at Hot Wax Surf Shop for his senior project at Laney High School.

”So there’s definitely a connection that you form when you actually make the board. Surfing is definitely a soul sport where you’re out there communing with nature and when you created the thing you’re riding, it’s just a different bond,” said Shaun Paul, general manager of Hot Wax Surf Shop.

The board is something you don’t see every day. There’s no brand markings on it, and the paint job, with stars outlined in blue, is a memorable one.

“I think he was just really proud of it because it was something that he built and I’m really proud of him for it,” said Brand. “I don’t have a lot of stuff to remember him by and so to have something tangible that I can touch and I can give to my kids and say, ‘Your uncle built this, this was something he loved,’ would be amazing. I can’t put it into words.”

She’s called pawn shops, surf shops, and seen overwhelming support from perfect strangers who saw the viral post online. On Thursday, pro surfer Kelly Slater even got involved in the hunt, sharing the photo on his Instagram feed.

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