About Us

Who we Are

We are a community of surfers, adventurers and advocates who have joined together to support those who protect us.

Open Water’s efforts started with surfing. With each wave the transformative experience of the ocean can challenge the body, liberate the soul and unite our hearts. It’s an experience that bonds and even heals. It’s also just the beginning.

what we value



We hold ourselves to the highest standard, behaving honorably with positive intentions.


We embrace one another’s challenges and trauma with open hearts.



We celebrate everyone’s uniqueness leading us to greater diversity of perspective.


We move forward together in support of one another to meet our shared goals.



We react with strength and purpose to overcome obstacles that challenge us.


We connect with each other to build a strong sense of purpose, accomplishment, and pride.

Origin Story

Open Water begins with the story of two men from different backgrounds who met on a beach and bonded over the experience of the ocean. Together Kyle Kelly and Danny Nichols aim to lead a movement where adventure is a backdrop for fellowship and reviving the soul of those who serve our communities and our country.

Kyle Kelly, SSG, US Army (Ret.) from a landlocked part of Texas experienced the ocean in a completely different way when he came to a veteran’s surf event.

After several years of medical complications following a roadside bombing in Iraq, doctors finally made the decision to amputate his right leg below the knee. Kelly had also lost several other friends due to the experiences of war. The ocean, with its unpredictable waves and untamed currents, challenged Kelly to surrender to its strength and yet offered him a sense of peace and accomplishment in a way he’d never before experienced.

For Danny Nichols, the ocean had always been a refuge. World-class competitive surfer, industry insider and respected businessman with a strong desire for service , Nichols believes a session in the ocean can clear his mind and rejuvenate his spirits, whether he is surfing, foiling, or paddling.

When they met, they quickly saw how sharing the adventure and tumultuous beauty of the ocean could help other warriors, including veterans, active military or first responders, find the same peace, fellowship and rejuvenation that they experience. As co-founders of Operation Open Water, Kelly and Nichols aim to use ocean and other open water experiences to help heal the mind, strengthen the body and raise the spirits of first responders and veterans.

Board of Directors



Danny Nichols

Member, Inkwright, LLC
Founding Member


Brett Barnes

Partner, Duke’s Restaurant
Founding Member


Mary Lou Shattuck

Community Volunteer
Founding Member


Jesse Timmermans

Revolve Group, Inc. – CFO


Ryan Bellerose

Creative Director, R.F. Bellerose

Jared Cheselski

San Diego FD, Captain (Ret.)

Jake Green

Freedom Consulting, Director of Security
Special Forces, US Army, (Ret.)

Kyle Kelly

US Army, (Ret.)
Founding Member

Dave Rhoads

Blue Street Capital, Founder/CEO