Keiki Paddle Selects theGSF

It's no secret that our favorite things are children helping children and people pushing themselves to help the SMA cause. Well, the two have combined and our “Love Meter” is overflowing! We are so honored the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation was selected as the charity recipient of this year's Keiki Paddle. 100+ kids paddle boarding 11 miles in the open ocean! AWESOME. 

What started as a way to challenge themselves physically and to raise funds for a dear friend battling cancer, has turned into an incredible non-profit organization. Since 2003, the Friendship Paddle has raised thousands to help Santa Barbara County families facing life-threatening illness. Their annual paddle is a moving day aimed at not only raising funding but to also celebrate the life and family of each beneficiary. It has become such a rewarding experience for all involved that a children's version was soon born. The Keiki Paddle, Hawaiian for child, started in 2008 on two desires: 1) children wanted to participate in in the paddle and 2) it was a perfect opportunity to instill the fundamental concept of giving back to the community and having a little fun while doing it.

We think it is really wonderful that the Keiki Paddle is completely child driven. The adults involved with the Friendship Paddle mentor and coach them through the process, but every child involved in the paddle has responsibilities. They are each asked to raise a minimum of $150 in order to participate, they are encouraged to organize fundraisers surrounding the paddle, they are in charge of the logo design and beach landing party, and they select the beneficiaries each year: a charity and a child facing serious illness. This year the Keiki Paddle Junior Board selected the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and we are so excited to be involved with this inspiring event.

On July 20th, over 100 kids, ranging in age from 7 to 16, will hit the beach, paddle boards in tow, and either stand-up paddle or belly paddle from Campus Point to East Beach — that's 11 miles in the open ocean! The paddlers will be broken up into teams. Some will paddle on their own, others will paddle in tandem, but each team relay paddles the entire distance. Support boats carry the team and carefully watch the transitions. And as they reach the shore they will be greeted by the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol firefighting boats and a beach full of parents and friends cheering them on — including Gwendolyn! A big BBQ, sponsored by the City of Santa Barbara Firefighters, will follow to celebrate.

If you or your child would like to be part of the Keiki Paddle, please submit these two sign up forms: Code of Ethics and Waiver. Children must be between 7 and 16 and must be able to swim, but no paddle experience is necessary. Please email Sheldon with any questions. And if you'd like to cheer on these awesome kids and support theGSF, join us on East Beach for the BBQ. Details to follow.

Thank you Keiki Paddle kids for moving your bodies so one day they can too!!! And thank you Friendship Paddle for creating such an inspiring opportunity for children to help children!