We were super inspired by Cheryl’s rise into the paddling stratosphere, seemingly coming out of nowhere to run with the big dogs. It’s a name we kept seeing, then we saw the training Cheryl was doing for the 80 mile paddle Crossing for a Cure paddle from Bimini to Florida and knew we had to share her inspiring story. Cheryl, you inspire us. Congrats on making the Mullet.
What are you paddling?
Flying Fish Freeglide 14×25 Dreaming of a Flying Fish Freedome 14×23 in my near future
Where is your favorite place to paddle?
I love to paddle and explore new territories. I’ve ridden the rapids in Colorado and Utah, paddled out on the Hood River and surfed on Jaco Beach in Costa Rica. But I still love my hometown of Hollywood, FL. The ocean is beautiful and it never disappoints. Whether it’s a flat water day where I can see marine life swimming under my board or a washing machine it does not matter. It’s a great place to train and prepare for all different conditions (Except for surf. We definitely don’t get the best waves in South Florida).
What is your favorite event and why?
I just finished the Crossing for a Cure, and I have to say that has been my all time favorite accomplishment. I paddled 80 miles from Bimini to Lake Worth, FL as a recreation solo paddler. We launched at 2am and I landed on the beach 13 hours and 23 minutes later. We dodged thunderstorms and the conditions weren’t exactly what we expected, but I loved every single second.
I trained like a crazy woman leading up to the event with Paddle Monster‘s Coach Seychelle and my trainer Sue Ellen at Om’Echaye. The hardest part for me was dialing in my nutrition. I worked with Betsy, the Miami Heat’s sports nutritionist, who helped me plan my meals and put together a solid program that I followed diligently.
It all paid off the day of the race. I was prepared and super strong. While most of the paddlers did not finish, I stood the entire time, never got tired or experienced any cramping.
However, the most important part about this event was not the paddle. We all came together to raise awareness and funds for people suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. As a paddle community we raised over $600,000. And along the way we built friendships and made memories that will last a lifetime.
What is your favorite paddling moment and why?
It’s hard to say what paddling moment is my favorite. I find the water to be therapeutic and I am grateful for every moment that I get to spend paddling. I suppose the best part about this sport is seeing the marine life. I’m sharing the ocean and waterways with the most amazing creatures. It doesn’t matter how many times I see a manatee…I still get super excited. It reminds me of how important it is for us to take care of our planet and respect our oceans. I just wish other people would do the same.
Do you have a bucket list event?
I’ve been thinking a lot about going to the BVI and doing the Painkiller race. I’ve never been to Hawaii and I would like to experience some of the events out there. And there is no doubt that I am signing up to do the Crossing For a Cure in 2020. This time I will be competing so watch out!
What are you grateful for?
I was introduced to paddle boarding four years ago and since then I have been hooked. I am in the best shape of my life and feel super strong physically and mentally. But the most important thing is the people that I have met along the way. My 954 team is the most supportive and loving group of people I have every known. We give each other encouragement on and off the water and we push each other to be the best that we can be. They are my family and I am grateful to have them all in my life.
Advice or tips for paddlers?
The biggest question I always get from people who do not paddle is “aren’t you afraid of the sharks?” I always tell them I am more afraid of the people on the boats than the sharks. If you have ever wanted to try paddling don’t be afraid. Just go try it, but be safe. Always wear a leash and a pfd. Bring a tracking device, go with a friend and make sure you have water. If you are just learning make sure to practice on flat water and don’t get discouraged.
Do you have a favorite charity?
SOL (Saving Ocean Life) is an organization that my daughter Joey started in 2015 when she was just 10 years old. Her mission is to bring awareness to the problems facing our oceans and marine life by educating the youth. She plans four events each school year that consist of an educational component along with a beach cleanup. The kids have learned about sharks, turtles, coral reefs, mangroves, manatees and so much more. She plans to continue these events and she is currently working to create curriculum for elementary schools to integrate into their science studies.
All of her events are open to the public. You can follow her on facebook and instagram.