Mother – Daughter Paddle Team overcome Great Odds: Stories from Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis

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Flying Fish Boards Co Chloe Dubois with Mother Catherine Dubois
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Although this year’s Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis, an 80-mile endurance paddle to raise funding for the CF community, has been postponed until June 2021, the stories continue to live on. Solo paddlers, team relays and family groups make this arduous journey from Bimini in the Bahamas to Lake Worth Beach in Palm Beach County on Florida’s coastline.

Standup Journal celebrates this heroic effort by telling the stories of individuals & family units participating in this incredible challenge. We ask that you remember the reason why they paddle: to fund the programs at Piper’s Angels Foundation, a powerful non-profit that supports the Cystic Fibrosis community in times of crisis like these. Let’s take a look at some of their inspiring stories.

Flying Fish Boards Co Chloe Dubois with Mother Catherine Dubois
Finding a strength in each other:  Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis team Catherine and Chloe Dubois relish a moment before 2019 paddle.

Bold in the Face of Fear:  A Rallying Call for Cystic Fibrosis

People who participate in this 80-mile crossing are ordinary heroes. They are folks like you and me who put their sweat and effort into making the lives of others easier through their own fundraising efforts. The stories of inspiration that come out of the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis are vast and deep.

“Humans fear the unknown, but being bold in the face of fear has taught me to embrace every moment and opportunity we are offered in life.”

Today, Standup Journal celebrates Mother’s Day by highlighting two incredible women, Catherine and Chloe Dubois who crossed the Atlantic Gulf Stream together in 2019 as part of the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis tribe. This mother and daughter paddle team, together with the rest of the Dubois family, looked into the face of CF (which Chloe and her brother both have) and became bold in the face of fear. Together, Chloe and her mother Catherine were able to overcome some uncomfortable odds in order to make their crossing a success. Here is their story:

Cystic Fibrosis face mask
Chloe Dubois, age 19, faces down her daily challenge with Cystic Fibrosis by exercising frequently and living a life close to the ocean. Salt water benefits the lungs of those patients with CF.

Chloe Dubois:  Youth & Wisdom in one Package

Standup Journal:  Chloe, how old are you and when did you start paddling?

Chloe:  I am 19 years old and just finished my freshman year at McGill University. When we started coming down to Delray Beach, Florida I was around 10 years old. I remember using the paddle boards that belonged to the beach club members in order to surf. I realized it was more fun with a paddle! My brothers and I would sit in a row on the board and paddle out as far as we could (without getting yelled at) to go snorkeling. Since then I have been paddling long distances as a way to clear my mind and get an intense workout!

SJ:  How has paddling changed your world and your perspective?

Chloe:  I’ve always loved being in the ocean whether I’m scuba diving, doing water sports, or running with my dog. The way I see it, there are two sides to paddle boarding that are expressed in myself. One side is the source of escape from this fast paced society. I enjoy the meditation and spirituality of being on the board in the middle of nature. Taking 2-3 hours in the morning to paddle puts me in such a good mood and, if I ever have a problem, I can always find an answer on the board. It’s a humbling yet comforting experience and the places my thoughts go when I’m on the water bring me so much positive energy.

“Paddle boarding has allowed me to push my limits, changing my perspective that anything is possible if you stick to it.”

The other side of paddle boarding tests my determination. I experienced this a lot during the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis. I am very stubborn by nature and if I set a goal in my head, I rarely let it go. Paddle boarding has allowed me to push my limits, changing my perspective that anything is possible if you stick to it. I have grown so much as a fighter since the Crossing, since last week, since yesterday and using the values I learn on the board has helped me to appreciate the person I am becoming. Humans fear the unknown, but being “bold in the face of fear” has taught me to embrace every moment and opportunity we are offered in life.

TO DONATE to the Piper’s Angels Foundation, please visit their website at:
PipersAngels.org

Chloe Catherine Dubois Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis
Did you know that CF warriors frequently have to wear face coverings or masks to protect their lungs from infection? What COVID-19 brought to the mainstream, these individuals have been practicing for years.

A Challenge to Overcome: Completing the Crossing with her Mom

SJ:  When you & your Mom completed last year’s Crossing, what was your most challenging moment?

Chloe:  I can’t even think about what the easiest moment was! I’m glad I had my adrenaline pumping from the launch to the finish line because this was definitely more of an emotional challenge then physical. With my brother and I being diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, this already gave me such a powerful reason to paddle. There are so many variables that could work against your favor in an open ocean crossing such as this: the weather, ocean conditions, lack of sleep.

“The biggest take away from the 2019 crossing was that if CF warriors fight this disease their whole lives, what’s a couple hours of suffering?”

If you don’t have a reason to paddle, it’s incredibly easy to give up (Read Alice Henley’s 2019 Crossing story: Finding Your Why). Having that reason, that mental motivation, provided 80% of the work I needed to cross. Yet, it still created such a difficult challenge. Emotionally, the Crossing was hard because I knew my mom was paddling for the same reasons. Every time we made eye contact, or I heard her voice, I felt myself digging deeper and deeper almost like I was trying to reassure my mom in a way.

SJ:  How has completing the Crossing, or overcoming this personal challenge, made you a better person? 

Chloe:  I remember crossing the finish line was an emotionally exhausting moment for my mom and I. Overcoming this challenge was not only a huge milestone in my life but it showed me the effects of strength in numbers. Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis has exponentially increased in participants since its inception which means that more families can benefit from the money raised. Even before I knew I had CF I was researching this disease, raising money for a cure, and educating people about it.

Spending a couple days in Bimini before actually crossing together was not only a time of reflection but also a time to come together and get motivated. With such an empowering and eye opening experience, the Crossing made me more aware of the difference Piper’s Angles Foundation makes to the CF community. This has motivated me to keep training for the next crossing in 2021 and I won’t stop fighting until we find a cure. The biggest take away from the 2019 crossing was that if CF warriors fight this disease their whole lives, what’s a couple hours of suffering? This was an eye opening experience, putting others first.

Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Course Map
Paddlers launch in the middle of the night around 1AM from Bimini to begin the 80-mile North Atlantic Ocean trek towards Lake Worth beach in Florida. Every stroke is a milestone, every mile an effort. All monies raise support families who battle Cystic Fibrosis every day.

Chloe’s Training Tips: Preparation is Forerunner of Success

SJ:  How did you train for it? 

Chloe:  To be completely honest, I think my mom and I really underestimated the Crossing at first glance. Paddle boarding sounds easy when you have perfect conditions for a couple miles. But, add ocean swells, lots of wind, sleep deprivation and 80 miles to cover, and you’ll understand why it’s called a “challenge”. I’m a long distance runner when I’m not paddle boarding, so staying active and doing cardio helped a lot. What I would change in my training for 2021 is definitely adding more weight training for strength and building core and shoulder muscle. Breathing and balance is also very important, something we don’t always realize as much.

Chloe Catherine Dubois Bahamas Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Pipers Angels
Catherine (standing) and daughter Chloe (in the water) celebrate a moment together in Bimini, each woman championing the other to make this hero’s journey a reality.

Catherine Dubois:  Creating a Rare Opportunity with her Daughter

Standup Journal:  Undertaking this challenge with your daughter must have seemed daunting at first. Who’s idea was it?  How did you come to decide to do it?

Catherine:  My husband met Travis a few months earlier at the cryotherapy that we run in Florida. He was so touched by this guy he said to me I think I met my twin brother with tears in his eyes. Travis’ story was exactly the same story as ours what Travis went through with his girl we went through with Jeremy and Chloe. Travis soon after told us about the Crossing and it was a no-brainer for us. The challenge was not quite as hard as having kids with Cystic Fibrosis, right ? So I signed up Chloé my daughter, my husband Jerome, my niece Brooke, and myself as a team.

“My strength to keep pushing came from that support and love I could feel.”

SJ:  I understand you had a strong support boat with your entire family on board.  How did that impact you out on the water?

Catherine:  They say your team is as strong as your weakest player. Ironically, our strongest player (my husband) got sea sick on the boat. It really shows you that sometimes, self motivation is such an important part of the journey. I definitely could not have done it alone but I knew I had the support of my daughter and everyone else on the boat even when I was in my zone, blocking out the noise. My strength to keep pushing came from that support and love I could feel.

TO DONATE to the Piper’s Angels Foundation, please visit their website at:
PipersAngels.org

Chloe Dubois Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Bahamas
Team work makes the dream work: Chloe stands with her father, twin brothers and mom on the beach before they put their mettle to the test in the ocean swells.

Digging Deep:  The Strength of Family in Challenging Times

SJ: What was your most challenging moment in the 2019 Crossing?  How did you get through it?

Catherine: It was early in the morning  and we had been paddling all night, the three girls and I, because my husband was nowhere to be found because he was still so seasick. We were all tired and dehydrated with no land in sight, just endless rough water all around us. I just had to look at my daughter’s eyes and they gave me the spirit to continue on. I thought, “If she can do it, so can I. If she can manage the disease, I can finish this crossing.”

“I was so happy to be done, I was shaking with tears in my eyes.”

SJ:  Describe how it felt to cross that finish line as a team. 

Catherine:  It’s still an unbelievable feeling when I think about it. There are way too many emotions running through you. Your adrenaline is still going so you’re not sure how to feel.  I was so happy to be done, I was shaking with tears in my eyes. It was quite a moment to be crossing the finish line with my daughter who I am the most proud of. My twin boys were already on the beach waiting for us. We couldn’t stop hugging each other.

Chloe Dubois and family Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis boat
Mom Catherine Dubois says, “If she can do it, so can I. If Chloe can live with this disease, I can finish this Crossing for her.”

Piper’s Angels Give Back to CF Community

SJ:  Can you say a few words about Piper’s Angels Foundation and how this organization impacts the CF community?

Catherine:  CF can be a huge financial burden on families that have a child or loved one with the disease. There is a lot to manage and organize in every aspect of life. The Piper’s Angels Foundation understands this. They help in so many ways and they really support the families who cannot afford the Medication for CF. You have no idea but this medicine is still extremely expensive. A little bit of help from all of us in the community plus Piper’s Angels Foundation’s donation can change the life of a family.

Chloe Dubois Crossing for CF profile shot sunset
Chloe Dubois takes a quiet moment at sunrise to take it all in.

Today:  Piper’s Angels & Impact of COVID-19

Due to the onset of COVID-19, many, many stand up paddling events have been cancelled. It impacts us all, but more importantly, it dramatically effects the non-profits that benefit from the community of paddlers out on the water.  The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis annually raises 90% of their funding required to run the multiple programs of Piper’s Angels Foundation. Last year alone, the event brought in over $650,000 in fundraising. Most importantly, the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis supports the CF community through their Urgent Financial Assistance program, offering direct donations to families struggling with CF who are in need of medicine or hospital stays.

Other programs that are built on the backbone of the Crossing include Piper’s Angels Salt Supply and Forever Stoke.  These two programs keep CF warriors connected to salt water therapy programs including learning how to surf and paddle. Dining Days, another program, offers nutritional & basic needs care packages delivered to CF patients while in the hospital. And finally, the Epic Love broadcast, is a weekly radio show and podcast highlighting stories of love through action.

Ruinously, COVID-19’s delay of the 2019 Crossing imposes a great risk to the CF community who has come to depend on Piper’s Angels Urgent Financial Assistance programming. The UFA ensures children and other CF patients get the critical care they need in times of crisis. With the postponement of this year’s event, the Foundation is looking for funding from alternative resources.  Your help is needed.

TO DONATE to the Piper’s Angels Foundation, please visit their website at:
PipersAngels.org

If you’ve read this far, we thank you. You are a believer.  Please share this story with someone else and, if you’re able, donate through the provided link to support this tribe in need during this time.  100% of your donation will go to helping someone with Cystic Fibrosis.

Stay tuned for MORE inspiring stories from a powerful band of paddlers as Standup Journal recounts the motivation and explores the ‘WHY’ behind each paddler’s crossing.  Who we are is the sum total of all our ‘Crossings’, both inner and outer.  Let’s inspire each other & give back.  Then, let’s give a little more.

 

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Evelyn O’Doherty
Evelyn O'Doherty, owner & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0, worked her way up the ranks in the world of stand up paddling. A former surfer gone rogue, Evelyn stepped onto a SUP for the first time in 2009 when a plaguing neck injury kept her out of the water from surfing. Discovering the core benefits and expanded perspective on the water that stand up paddling brings, Ev immediately was hooked. She became a strong SUP racer in the North East and a year-round SUP surfer, gathering multiple top brand sponsorships including becoming a team rider for Starboard SUP and a national ambassador for Kialoa, as well as celebrating all aspects of the sport with additional brand ambassadorships including lululemon athletica, Clif Bar, Cobian, Kaenon & Indo Board. Her love of watersports and commitment to advocacy in preserving our marine environments led to a short film made with The Nature Conservancy as part of their Clean Water initiatives on Long Island, NY, called "A New Perspective". Evelyn just keeps paddling. Today, she's stepped up to take over the helm at Standup Journal after having worked for the magazine for 2 years as senior online editor. Her dedication and belief in the power of print to immerse readers in the watersports they love even if they don't have access to the water in a daily existence plus a powerful desire to spotlight the amazing people doing rad sh*t on the water is what drives her vision for Standup Journal 2.0. Evelyn welcomes the conversation about how to make the magazine benefit as many people as possible and encourages feedback, letters to the editor and communication at editor@standupjournal.com . Now, as owner/publisher for Standup Journal., Evelyn continues to live in East Hampton NY where she has daily access to the water. When the swell is working, you can find her in Montauk rattling around in her Ford Ranger surfboards hanging out the back headed for points East.