Boards and paddles are waxed. Hydration packs are ready. Paddleboarders from across the globe will race around Absecon Island and help people with cancer Saturday at the 9th annual Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation Paddle For A Cause presented by J&L Amish Depot.
The 22.5-mile course that circles Absecon Island is regarded as the toughest paddleboard race in the world was specifically designed to test competitors mentally and physically, similar to someone battling cancer.
But not every paddler is seeking prize money and points for the World Paddle Association-sanctioned race. Social paddlers take it easy in the back bays on a course to the Wonder Bar. The four-mile paddlers will get a boat ride back to Golden Nugget courtesy of Teal Cruises and eight-mile paddlers will complete the loop using their own power.
The fun doesn’t stop there – the after party and awards ceremony is 4 p.m. at The Deck at Golden Nugget. The party is included with registration and $25 to all others. Also, residents with homes along paddle course in Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport are encouraged to show support the paddlers as they pass.
The real cause that is driving paddlers is to help people with cancer. All paddlers are required to fundraise $200 to participate with proceeds benefiting the foundation, a nonprofit organization that provided more than $550,000 in grants to financially assist people with cancer since 2001.
Jonathan Baker of Egg Harbor Township is an ambassador for the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation and has paddled around the island in the event in the past. He’s not only raised more than $7,000 but he is also raffling off a piece of his original artwork and donating the funds to the foundation.
“Last years art raffle raised over $4,000. This year I would like to double it,” Baker said.
Karen Grant of Margate is also a member of the Board of Trustees but isn’t paddling. However she’s thrown her energy into fundraising more than $6,000 to date.
“I was a recipient in 2013 of a very generous grant that truly helped me get through the financial burden that comes along with a cancer diagnosis,” Grant said. “At that time I vowed that once I was well enough to volunteer that I would do all that I could to repay that generosity, and at the same time help others facing the same challenges.”
The event begins at 8 a.m. at Frank S. Farley State Marina and paddlers are expected to return at approximately 12:30 p.m. Winners in the 22.5-mile race will be presented prize money at the awards ceremony and after party; $1,000 for first, $500 for second and $250 for third to be awarded in three different divisions. Men’s and Women’s 14’ Stand up Paddle and Unlimited prone paddle.