In trying times, it’s easy to retreat inward, to make our world as small and manageable as we can. It helps us feel in control of ourselves. As much as that feels good, it doesn’t change the fact that there is a great big world around us. We breathe the air, interact with nature, and are still subject to all the challenges and difficulties we faced before the pandemic. We can only face inward for so long, before everything that surrounds us, creeps back into our daily lives and focuses our attention outward.

But what do you do when the things you used to do for the world aren’t available?

Paddlers are nothing if not adaptable and resourceful. When one of our premier events, Molokai2Oahu, was cancelled, the organizers decided to do a virtual event and something amazing happened. A race that typically involved around 150 paddlers was transformed to over 1,800 paddlers. A wonderful part of virtual events is they allow us to transcend geography and time, and ultimately expand our reach and inclusiveness.

As a paddling community, we now have a distinct opportunity to expand our impact on the world around us. Both Standup for the Cure and the Panda Paddle are hosting virtual events for 2020!

Panda Paddle, August 21-23
A benefit for the World Wildlife Foundation, the Panda Paddle supports the mission to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. The Panda Paddle was traditionally held in San Diego, but thanks to virtual technology, it can now be in your backyard. The event features a recreational paddle, as well as 5k and 10k virtual races with scoring via your favorite fitness tracker app.

Alongside the competition on the water, there’s also a competition for the top fundraiser. Infinity has generously made and donated 3 custom Panda Paddle boards that will go to the top fundraisers. There are also some great thank you gifts for reaching fundraising levels starting at just $100. The gifts include t-shirts, socks, towels, a solar charger, a dry bag, and a soft-sided cooler, all embossed with either the WWF or Panda Paddle logos.

Register before August 11th to save a few bucks on the registration!

Standup for the Cure, August  28-30
Standup for the Cure started in 2012 to pursue an end to breast cancer. Since then, they have raised over $1.3M with 100% of the proceeds donated to local partners Susan G. Komen Foundations, the Van Andel Institute, and Hackley Community Care.

In the past, live events were held in Newport Beach, Muskegon, Seattle, and Miami. Those locations continue to be strongholds for the virtual event, but once again, virtualization promises spread the reach of the event significantly. Standup for the Cure, doesn’t have an on-water competitive component, just get out and have a mindful experience and post your story. There is both team and individual fundraising competition. There’s also a really great gear store for branded clothes and accessories.

Register at any time through the event date.

Here’s what Dave Meade, West Michigan Paddler extraordinaire had to say about the event: “My family and I have been participating in Standup For The Cure’s Muskegon, MI event for several years. Dan and his crew do an amazing job of bringing the paddle community and the community surrounding breast cancer together for an awesome fundraising event. This hits especially close to home for me this year as we have two close friends that are both fighting breast cancer for the second time. Even though the current pandemic had caused the cancellation of almost everything it seems like, it’s more important than ever to keep fighting for a cure for cancer. Feel free to register and join my fundraising team…Great Lakes Paddlers!”

Paddle Solo or With Friends?

Hopefully the question isn’t whether or not to do these paddles, chances are your going to paddle both weekends regardless. The question becomes paddle solo or in a responsible socially distanced group. That decision ultimately is up to you and your comfort level, However, much like M2O, groups are popping up wide and far for both paddles. If you want company, there’s plenty of opportunity to share stoke with your local paddle ohana.