A first time nominee, Dam That Cancer raised over $230,000 for the Flatwater Foundation, an Austin-Texas based non-profit that provides mental health services for cancer survivors and their families. Seventy-five paddlers raised at least $1,500 each (one raised $20,000 this year alone) as they paddled a 21-mile loop around Lake Austin. “We started this with my father’s diagnosis,” says Founder/Executive Director Mark Garza. “The Flatwater Foundation name comes from the serenity of flatwater. Cancer creates waves and uncertainty. We want to bring serene water back into people’s lives to help them navigate the disease.”
A 2011 SUP Award winner, Paddle for Humanity continues to be a beacon for charitable paddling events, with 2013 races in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Austin, Texas and Newport Beach, Calif. PFH divides proceeds among the Best Day Foundation, LUNGevity, the Navy SEAL Foundation, Ocean of Hope Campaign , TACA and other local charities. “It’s nice to bring an event to people’s back yard and make it accessible and focused on getting people out in the water,” says Event Director Pete Stirling. “There is a huge paddling community out there and when you bring it together, we can all do great things.”
This June, over 300 paddlers and supporters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation came out to celebrate NEXT’s 2nd Annual National SUP Day and raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. Events were held across the nation in Newport Beach, Calif., Brick, New Jersey, Clinton, CT and Chicago, with the goal of getting those diagnosed with cystic fibrosis out on the water.
Founded in 2010 by professional surfer Jodie Nelson, Paddle With Purpose was created to serve as a philanthropic extension of the sport of standup paddling. PWP has raised nearly $200,000 benefitting organizations like Boarding for Breast Cancer, Keep a Breast Foundation and the Thoracic Ascending Aortic Disease. PWP organizes events like the Adler Paddler and 2012′s Trestles to Tijuana, which raised awareness about in-river pollutants entering the ocean.
The 7th Annual SEAPaddleNYC on August 9th benefits Autism, the Surfers’ Environmental Alliance and the Super-Storm Sandy relief effort. In the first six years the event has raised nearly 2 million for charity. The larger than life backdrop of NYC is a compelling excuse to paddle the 26.5 miles (or 5-mile short course). Beneficiaries include Surfer’s Healing, Best Day Foundation, Autism Family Services of New Jersey and the Virginia Autism Project. “We are one of the largest ports in the world and we want to protect the waterways here,” says SEA Paddle Executive Director Richard Lee. “And surfing has a tremendous impact on autism and we’re dedicated to supporting that cause. We do these things because we think it’s the right thing to do.”
A three-time SUP Award nominee, SUP 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru hosts cancer survivors four times a year on Maui, bringing in professional paddlers to help support them on their standup paddling journey, which works as a form of healing. “It’s amazing, says SUP 4 Cancer’s Tonia Farman. “Selfishly, it’s such instant gratification to see people who haven’t spent much time in the ocean be introduced and start moving. It’s such a simple thing we take for granted. But you know by the expression on their face that you have completely changed their world.”
A 2012 SUP Award winner, in 2013, Standup for the Cure raised $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation with its event in Newport Beach, Calif. “We’re successful because we see the growth of the sport coming from non-paddlers that want something new to do,” says Event Director Dan Van Dyck. “If we’re going to have a sustainable event, it has to come from new people. Plus our demographic is super-passionate–people who’ve received a second shot at life after recovering from a horrible disease or those who know someone they’ve lost to breast cancer.”
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