United States Lifesaving Association SOV 21

Published: April 2, 2021

Honoree’s Name: Gus Avila

Award Category: Protect

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:



Gus Avila was nominated for a competitive award in the Protect category. Vote by “liking” this video on YouTube.

The lifeguard community encompasses beach lifeguards, EMTs, law enforcement, junior lifeguard/youth programs, and youth and adult competitive open water sports programs. Orange County resident and business owner, Gus Avila, has served the lifesaving community for more than 40 years. Much of this work in a volunteer capacity. In 1979 Avila became a California State Parks lifeguard and served Huntington State Beach as a paid employee in several roles including that of peace officer, until end of 2010. Additionally, Mr. Avila was the Lifeguard Supervisor (Lieutenant) for 17 years at Huntington, Bolsa Chica and Crystal Cove State Beaches. While working as a full time Lifeguard, Gus attended Law School at night and began his role in community service and volunteerism and worked to support outreach to underrepresented areas of Orange County and Long Beach, in an effort to introduce public service opportunities to those communities that were underrepresented at Orange County and nearby city beaches. While still employed by the State, Avila served as a volunteer to local, small non-profit organizations that are associated with Lifesaving and water safety. Gus was the pro bono Legal Advisor to the California State Lifeguard Association, California Surf Lifesaving Association and the Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Association. Upon retiring his paid position, Mr. Avila continued to serve in several volunteer capacities with the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), the non-profit, professional umbrella association for lifeguarding agencies across the United States. Each role Mr. Avila filled, and continues to fill, supports the goal of public awareness and drowning prevention. One such role is dedicated to serving the youth in the beach lifeguarding community. As USLA Youth Team Manager, Avila serves to train and educate young ocean athletes, and soon to be adult lifeguards, in the community, who also participate in Junior Lifeguard programs, that wish to pursue a path of competitive ocean sport before pursuing careers as lifeguards or heading off to college. Through this role as Youth Team Manager, he has taken youth teams to compete across the world to New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, and France, where his teams were able to serve as young ambassadors to the United States competing against other powerhouse nations in the same sport (Japan, Canada, GB, Australia, China and more) giving these soon to be adults invaluable experience and lifelong skills in team building, mentorship, sportsmanship, and ambassadorship. Mr. Avila, each year, returns young adults to the community as advocates for public safety and education. Many of these young adults have returned to the same beaches they trained on as athletes to continue to serve and educate the public as EMTs, Lifeguards, and Law Enforcement. Some have gone on to pursue education or careers in the environment or advanced law enforcement. Most importantly, Mr. Avila, year in and year out, tirelessly promotes the growth of the program, as well as the importance of aquatic safety and public education.

5 thoughts on “United States Lifesaving Association SOV 21

  1. Congrats on the nomination Gus! Thanks for getting Emma started on what appears to be the start of career of service, community & education. Forever indebted, friend 🧡

    Tania & Emma

  2. Your selfless service to Orange County I appreciate very much. Leading the charge to keep our beaches safe! Lee Graham

  3. This is a nomination well deserved, Gus! You’ve inspired our daughter to expand her involvement in lifeguarding and lifesaving sport and you’re an excellent role model for young people to follow. We appreciate everything you do.

    Christian & Kathleen Nimsky

  4. Congratulations Gus, I remember approximately 20 years ago, traveling with you to Mexico to train locals to become lifeguards so the beaches there would be safe for tourists.

    AL Pepito

  5. Congratulations! Super exciting to have you representing us! We so appreciate you!

    Kahlberg Family

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