The most fun and pinnacle moment in my SUP lifestyle was the moment I looked over to the support boat next to me and saw the two small children that I had set out to paddle for, smile and clap for me. Jayden and Brooklyn were two of my friends’ children who had been diagnosed with a rare childhood illness called San Filippo where, as they grow, they slowly deteriorate and die.
With this horrid disease, the sad fact is most children with this don’t live to see their 12th birthday, and there is no cure for it as of yet. But the minute I found out, I knew I had to do something. My heart bled for their parents. So I organized a paddle, soon to become one of many I would do, to stand up for them and raise money for their cause. Since that first charity paddle, I have had within me a desire to “Stand For Something”.
One year I paddled 32 miles to raise money for Jesus Was Homeless, a local homeless organization, and another year I raised $3000 for a little girl with cancer as part of the Paddle For Her Battle organization that was started on her behalf. With a purpose in mind, paddling becomes more energized, more empowered, more meaningful. And there are plenty of purposes out there to paddle for. So if lately your paddle sessions seem to lack luster, or you just don’t get the thrill you once did SUPing around your local waterways, maybe it’s time you check out these ten charities I’ve compiled that are all about Standing up on your SUP for something and seeing what a difference you and your board can make.
1. Paddle Operation Second Chance – a Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) board day of fun racing and fundraising for a worthy cause, known as Operation Second Chance. OSC is a nonprofit organization committed to serving our wounded war heroes and their families in regards to recovery and transition back to active duty or civilian life. 91% of the funds raised go directly to wounded veterans and their families. Find out more at: http://paddlesecondchance.com
2. Paddle Imua – Paddle Imua is a multiple discipline paddle race that celebrates the lives of special needs children by embracing our connection to the ocean. The race is open to many paddle sports including stand-up paddleboard (SUP), OC1, OC2, prone paddleboard, and surf ski. The race is just about 9 miles long and a wonderfully, unique aspect of this water competition on Maui is that the competitors will also be given the opportunity to mix and mingle with the special needs children of Camp Imua at the finish of the race. They can take the time to give the kids some water sports exposure and inspiration to live out their dreams. Find out how you can help or paddle in this event on May 9th, 2015 by visiting: http://paddleimua.com/race/
3. Paddle For Her Battle – this cause started out as a Daddy paddling for his darling daughter who was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2012 and has since won her battle and has gone into remission. This paddle is now an opportunity that her father would like to use as an avenue to help others in the same situation. Please help us raise money and awareness to battle the effects that childhood cancer has on the patient and the family. If you know of a family in need of funds that would like info on how to go about setting up a Paddle for Her Battle, visit: www.paddleforherbattle.com
4. Sea Paddle NYC – experience Manhattan like never before with this the 25-mile paddle around Manhattan as it is one of the premier SUP and prone paddle events in the world. It’s efforts are to raise funds and awareness for both Autism and the Environment. It serves as the chief fundraiser for the Surfer’s Environmental Alliance (SEA). It is a WPA sanctioned specialty event, and has attracted surfers, standup paddlers and watermen from all around the world, including top athletes like Gerry Lopez, Jaime Mitchell, Annabel Anderson, Rob Rojas, Darrick Doerner, Tom Curren & Joel Tudor.
Participants are encouraged to raise $1000 towards SEA and it’s many beneficiaries like Surfers for Autism, and the Best Day Foundation. For more info or to donate, please visit: www.seapaddlenyc.org 5. Paddle For Humanity – Founded in 2009, the Waterman’s Paddle for Humanity (WPFH) is a grass root paddling event series with the stated purpose of bring the paddling community together to support a common cause. Visit them at: http://paddleforhumanity.org
6. The Butterfly Effect World Paddle Tours – This outreach specifically geared towards women is all about empowering and inspiring athletic women everything to grow their community and use their love of watersports to give back to local charities in their community, all the while encouraging a healthy, active way of life. Let by a dozen passionate, SUP-loving women, The Butterfly Effect offers over 30 different non-competitive events in countries around the world with thousands of participants. Find out more at betheeffect.com
7. Waterman Eco-Challenge at Narragansett Town Beach – Raising Awareness Toward Ocean and Sun Safety and it is in conjunction with Environmental Awareness Day. A 3-mile ocean paddle, sup or prone – all skill levels are welcome. This year they are adding a one-mile ocean swim race as well. The one-day event is held Saturday July 18th, 2015. And it’s sponsored by one of my favorite businesses, Raw Elements USA sunscreen. Find more info at https://www.facebook.com/WatermanEcoChallenge
8. San Clemente Ocean Festival – San Clemente Ocean Festival is a volunteer organization, dedicated to the promotion and support of ocean safety, the environment, and the community by providing a quality athletic venue and enjoyable family event. With many fundraising and ocean awareness event opportunities available from beach runs to Lifeguard games to the ever popular great rubber ducky race, there is something for all, including the Sport of Kings SUP race. This race is a competitive and fun out-and-back buoy course broken into heats. The event is set for Saturday July 19th and you can find out more info or sign up by visiting: http://www.oceanfestival.org/SUP_Championships.htm
9. Surf Ontario at the SUP4MS 2015! The 6th Annual SUP4MS is a fundraising event for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and involves a 10km paddle all done in communitystyle, where all participants just paddle the event together for fun on Lake Ontario. This year’s event will be held July 25th, and is set to be the biggest yet! Visit: surfontario.com/SUP4MS to learn more!
10. Stand Up 4 Robyn – if you not yet into the mindset paddling an event yourself, If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter!! I need you to Stand Up and make a difference with your donation pledge? I myself, Jodelle Fitzwater, have decided to paddle 40 miles on my local Table Rock Lake in Southwest Missouri to raise money for a dear friend of mine, Robyn Ayers, who at only 34 years of age is battling breast cancer for the second time. I’m asking folks to pledge $1 per mile with all proceeds going directly to Robyn. Visit my website: http://www.s/upcoming-events-and-classes.php to learn how to pledge!
There are many, many more charity paddles out there to get you all fired up about SUP, but these are just to get you motivated. Get “onboard” to do something good for someone else, and revitalize your love for SUP once again. The is a whole new passion for paddling when your paddling for a purpose![author image=”http://standupjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Jodelle-Fitzwater1.jpg”>Jodelle Fitzwater "Jodelle Fitzwater is the Midwest Ambassador for BiC SUP and Certified Fitness Trainer for SUP TV. She is also a self-proclaimed mermaid because she has no fear of depth and a great fear of shallow living. Find her instructional fitness videos by visiting SUP TV on YouTube and by visiting www.getfitwithjodelle.com "liking” on Get Fit With Jodelle on Facebook.” [/author]