More than $1 million raised! 650 stand up paddlers, this 4-year old Great Ponte Vedra FL Paddle event is one of the coolest and biggest we’ve seen:
Standup Paddlers have it good. Not only do we experience the joy and excitement of an exhilarating sport, but also are constantly exposed and surrounded by the ever changing beauty of nature.
Others are not so fortunate. As an example, families who experience autism face daily challenges, pressures, and tribulations that few of us can truly fathom. With these folks in mind, the Great Ponte Vedra Paddle was born.
Five years ago the Great PV Paddle was the brainchild of Dana Current, a newbie “Standup Paddler” who was on the Board of HEAL. HEAL is a wonderful organization that provides support for families in Northeast Florida that are experiencing autism. To create the event Dana enlisted the aid a group of “Founders” comprised of caring individuals from the community, businesses, as well as stalwarts of our local Standup community
The Great PV Paddle event was designed with several goals in mind:
- To create an event that allows SUPers and others in the community to “Give Back” by supporting a great cause… THE HEAL FOUNDATION.
- Make it fun…yes, having a competitive 5 mile race, but also shorter races, 1 and 3 mile races that allows all ages and skill levels to experience a real paddle…. And we also include an “Anything Goes” division which encourages any paddle craft, floats, costumes and families to paddle together (awards are given for best costumes)
- Make it exciting, enjoyable and fast paced event. The event is held every Labor Day, starting at 8:00 a.m., with the last race and awards over by noon. It’s a fantastic way for people to have a fun filled morning and still be home for the traditional Labor Day Cookout.
- Create an event that will expose hundreds of people to the joys of Standup paddle boarding (obviously a great idea).
- While providing a fun competition, keeping the focus on the “Event,” a fun family oriented gathering that is a joy for everyone to attend. This includes party music, food, prizes, a beachfront vendors tent village, awesome raffle items, incredible participants package and a great cause, HEAL, all creating an incredible experience.
In 2012 word of the Great Ponte Vedra Paddle was spread through normal media outlets, but even more important shared directly to our Northeast Florida SUP community through our wonderfully supportive SUP shops and vendors, our local Standup Paddle Board Facebook pages and an email list of local paddlers developed over the prior five years. A direct appeal was made to our SUP community to “Give Back” and to “Stand Up” for HEAL, a wonderful local cause….And the response was overwhelming. The first Great Ponte Vedra Paddle had over 100 paddlers and raised over $25,000.00.
Since then, the Great PV Paddle has become one of the biggest and most successful paddle boarding events around. In 2015, we had over 50 corporate sponsors, 250 participants, and more than 500 spectators. To date, The Great Ponte Vedra Paddle has raised over $160,000 for HEAL used to provide support for local families who are living with Autism.
2016 will be even bigger! So we invite everyone to “Give Back” and to “Stand Up” for HEAL and to join us this Labor Day at the Great Ponte Vedra Paddle.
For info regarding sponsorship, registration or more about this event go to www.greatpvpaddle.org
Article by Tim Ellis