6th Keiki Paddle maintains support of local youth with cancer

Keiki Paddle - Santa Barbara

The Keiki Paddle is designed to raise money but also to be a fun-filled day for ocean enthusiasts.


Never without heart, this Saturday’s 6th annual Keiki Paddle will have its soul back as the fundraising event returns to the ocean a year after shark sightings in Santa Barbara kept the event on dry land for precautionary reasons.

This year’s Keiki Paddle – which raises important support funds for local children fighting cancer – will start at Campus Point in Goleta and finish at East Beach in Santa Barbara.

?We?re raising money for someone that really needs it. We?re fostering a sense of community and we?re doing something we all enjoy ? we?re paddling on the ocean because we love being at the beach,? said junior advisory board member Foster Campbell.

Every year, the Junior Advisory Board selects one individual as well as one local non-profit organization to be the beneficiary of their annual fund raising efforts.

Keiki Paddle - Santa Barbara

The beach landing celebration is a highlight for the event’s participants.

?It?s very hard to choose the beneficiary because there are so many kids that need help,? Campbell explained. ?One of the things we look at is the seriousness of their illness. Another thing we look at is his or her financial situation.?

Samuel Helfand was chosen as this year?s beneficiary. He is 7 years old and attends Kellogg School in Goleta. In the fall of 2012, Samuel was diagnosed with a tumor, called an ependymoma, found on his spine and is currently going through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy.

The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation is a non-profit organization formed to create global awareness of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is the #1 genetic killer of young children. Donations to this foundation will also help quicken the research technology and continue to support families affected by SMA.

Due to the shark sightings last year, the event was changed to a fun day at the beach on the sand, leaving many eager to return to the ocean paddle.

?I look forward to this every year ? getting to meet new people and being out in the water is just amazing,? said Greg Kronen.

?Because of the shark warnings last year we actually couldn?t paddle, so we just did relays on the beach. I?m definitely missing the paddle aspect of it, so I?m really looking forward to this year.?

During past years, the Keiki Paddle has increased its number of participating paddlers that cover around 8-10 miles each year.

Children between the ages of 7 and 16 sign up and form teams to relay paddle the entire distance. The event is not recognized as a race, but as a way to support one another and raise a minimum of $100 for a specific beneficiary.

At the event, paddleboards are provided and all are encouraged to paddle as little or as much as they choose. To promote safety, support boats are present to monitor all paddlers.

The beach landing celebration at East Beach is expected to happen between noon and 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The children?s paddle originated in 2008 with the hopes of providing additional support to a child with a life-threatening illness, as well as a children?s non-profit organization in Santa Barbara County.

The Keiki Paddle is entirely run by a Junior Advisory Board consisting of local young teens with ages ranging from 13-17. The members of this board are: Chase McFadden, Tucker Ingalls, Foster Campbell, Greg Kronen, Jackson Taylor, Steven Kronen, John Henry Kronen, Baylor Randolph, Emily Robertson, Sabina Boyce, Renee Berkus and Zac Pfeifer.

In 2008, 80 paddlers completed 8 miles from Goleta Pier to Santa Barbara Pier, and ended with a barbeque on Ledbetter Beach. In 2009, 100 paddlers came out for the event and they paddled 10 miles from Hendry?s Beach to Summerland Beach. In 2010, over 120 paddlers covered 9 miles in a record time. Each year, the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol joined in on the excitement and sprayed the kids with their water gun from their boat.