Paddle up

This New Jersey fundraiser takes a stand for good causes.

By Wendy Rose Gould

Racing doesn’t always mean putting your feet to the pavement or jumping into a high-speed vehicle. Sometimes it involves grabbing a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and navigating your way through a stretch of sparkling water under warm sunshine. Just ask the Greater Toms River Kiwanis Club in New Jersey, which successfully hosted such a race in September 2021. 

The SUP race was planned over the course of six months by a committee of Kiwanians, as well as members of the Ocean County College Foundation. Hosted by the Toms River Yacht Club, the event raised about US$16,000 for the club. 

Now in its sixth year, the event was originally sponsored by the Toms River Chamber of Commerce. After officially adopting the race from the chamber, the Toms River club is excited to continue a tradition that’s a good fit for Kiwanians –– fostering community engagement, promoting healthy outdoor exercise and celebrating a beautiful natural resource. 

“We had a fabulous day with 35 paddlers and at least 30 spectators,” says Nicole Arden, the club’s immediate past president. “There was a 3 mile race and a 6 mile race. Additionally, for $25, people could sign up to board the River Lady and have breakfast and cruise over to the yacht club to watch the race kickoff.” 

When race day arrived, all hands were on deck, including members from the Kiwanis club, a local Key Club and the Ocean County College Foundation. Volunteers helped set up the event, direct participants to the launch site and clock the paddlers as they crossed the finish line. They also handed out swag bags to participants. 

“Each paddler received a T-shirt that displayed all of our gracious sponsors, and the swag bags (contained) various small gifts from our sponsors,” Arden says. “We also gave out Kiwanis brochures that I created using the Kiwanis website.” 

Most of the funds raised came from local business sponsors and went directly to the club. From there, the funds were earmarked for community charities and organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, 21 Plus, Harbor House, Habitat for Humanity, Hope Sheds Light, and The Ocean County College Foundation.

This story originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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