For the last 5 years I have participated in a Standup Paddle Board race to raise funds for the Plummer Youth Promise. The Plummer Youth Promise provides a safe home for kids who have been in the foster system for years and are near aging out of the system or need to be in a safe home. The Plummer Youth Promise works to help these teens to find a family and work with them to build their trust and show that there are good people out there that can provide a safe and loving home. Although I cannot relate to what these kids have gone through as I grew up in a loving, supportive and safe home, I feel very strongly that all children should grow up feeling safe and loved.
Each year this event is put together with the tireless efforts of Leah Goodman and Christos Douroudis of SUP East Coast Style with their team and with Nicole McLaughlin and Leanne Schild of Plummer Youth Promise with their team as well as countless volunteers and sponsors. This year I was honored to be asked to be an Ambassador for the event. This meant I had the pleasure of sharing the stoke for this event by spreading the word in the paddle community, raising funds and being a part of the Friday night clinic by providing extra help to those looking to learn how to paddle or improve on their paddling skills.
The kickoff to the event was Friday’s night clinic hosted by Surftech’s SUP Athlete Jeramie Vaine. This clinic was a full house with many new paddlers eager to learn the sport and paddlers familiar with the sport that wanted to take their skill to the next level. The storms experienced that afternoon has cleared up in time for the clinic we ended up with great weather for the night and had a lot of fun learning, laughing and supporting each other on the water together. I saw so many smiles of those who had never paddled before, stood up for the first time or were preparing to race for the first time. This night really started the event and pulled a community together for such a good cause. Thank you for all those who attended and contributed to helping The Plummer Youth Promise.
Saturday morning was race day. The stoke was high, the weather was perfect, sunny and not too hot. Vendors set up their tents, Yoga classes were being conducted on the water, and the Spin Classes were full of energy. The day turns into a big family event as there is something for everyone on land and on the water. The SUP races included a fun race, short course race and a long course race. There was something to fit all levels of paddlers. In true SUP East Coast Style fashion, the race course was fun. Each race buoy had a matching cast of inflatable characters including Unicorns and Pegasus. Needless to say, buoy turns around these fun floats was interesting and fun. How can racing be that scary if you are paddling past a unicorn?
Unfortunately, I came down with a stomach illness Saturday morning and was not feeling well by the start of the Long Course race. I did make an attempt to start the race but had to withdraw from the race at the first buoy. When that happened, I was taken excellent care of by the support crew on the water. A huge thank you to Christos for paddling my board back from the buoy and to Connor for taking me back to the beach on the jet ski. Even though I was not feeling well enough to finish the race, I was still happy to be there and be part of the event. I can definitely say the day and this event is not about winning a race, it is about the SUP community. The SUP community came together to make sure that these kids are giving a real childhood with the funds that were raised by the paddlers, the community and the sponsors.
A Standup Paddle Board racer will train hard for their race day. They are disciplined. They work hard, eat right and are focused. More importantly, they also know what it means to support another racer, whether it be a quick shout out on the course or cheering on paddlers while at the finish. They also know the meaning of community and what it means to race for a charity. This is how the SUP community works and why it is so important to make sure that the community continues grow whether it be for a diehard racer or someone who races recreationally. We all need to do our part to share the stoke! Go out and paddle with someone you enjoy being with. Encourage those that have not paddled to learn to paddle today and watch as the see a whole new world open up for them!by