Paddle for Your Cause helps local charities

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By Tianyi Xiao

The parking lot of people joined the event. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

“Paddling is really special to me,” said Elizabeth Maxwell, the founder of Shaka SUP Racing. 

“I paddle in the morning, water for most people is very calming and it is good for the mind, as well as the body.”

Maxwell and her husband were telling people the instructions. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

Maxwell is the founder of  “Paddle for Your Cause,” a paddling race that happened at South Lake Lansing on Sept 21. The event draws people who have a passion for stand-up paddling but welcomes beginners, and kayakers. There were about 30 people who participated in the event.

“When you bring the competition in, you get a whole new excitement,” Maxwell said. “I love watching everybody starts, it’s like we are all in the same place and do our personal best. That just unfolds the way it does.” 

The love of the paddling community made Maxwell start this event a couple of years ago.

“I am from Michigan, also alumni in Michigan State University education program,” Maxwell said. “I love paddling, my husband and I have a company hosting lacrosse tournament in the Midwest, and now we decided to start a company for the local charity. … We have got a higher quality of paddler who wants a longer race. We started this race for four local charities, which are really special to me.”

Maxwell said the reason this event is called “Paddle for Your Cause,” is because participants get to choose where $5 of the registration fee goes — to give a donation of $5 to one charity or $1.25 to four charities. The four charities are: Kennedy Tennant Memorial Fund, Young Survival Coalition, Ingham County Animal Shelter and Make a Wish-MI. “Paddle for Your Cause” also has sponsorships with Waverly Chiropractic, Royal Paint Company and Lansing Sports Authority.

Adrian Barnett, a touring musician who is from Nashville, Tennessee, has only been paddling a year and came to Michigan for the race.

Adrian Barnett is a touring musician, who comes from Tennessee. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

“This is part of the Midwest Paddle Week, and these are the last two races in the season,” he said, referring to a second event on Sept. 22.

Barnett runs his own jazz group and writes music. He’s performed in lots of places around the U.S. and just got back from Canada. Since he loves paddling, he often searches online for events he can travel to.

Shannon Gerow will travel to paddle too.

Shannon Gerow was doing some practice before the race. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

“I’m from the Detroit area, and I have been paddling a couple of years,” said Gerow. “I have been paddling for six years and been training (for competitive racing) for two years. … I did one (race) in Kentucky, it is more casual than this one and I got second place in that race. ”

“This is the first time that I raced; I watched last year because I did not realize it can be kayaking,” said Kris Tennant, who is the founder of Kennedy Tennant Memorial Fund, and a friend of Maxwell’s. “I learned kayak five years ago. I started kayaking since the loss of my daughter, my daughter loves to be in the water, it is a place where can get your mind to relax. When I was kayaking, I have moments where deep and thoughts of my daughter.” 

Elizabeth Maxwell, left, and Kris Tennant have a strong friendships. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

 Tennant started the Kennedy Tennant Memorial Fund for her daughter, who died on October 14, 2016, at the age of 12, as the result of a car accident. Also, because she loves water, Tennant wants to kayak in memory of her daughter.

For Maxwell, she wants “Paddle for Your Cause”  to welcome both beginner and competitive paddlers. She wants kayakers to not be under too much pressure and still focus on the charity.

Everyone was being ready to start the race. Photo by Tianyi Xiao.

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