Perhaps you've seen stand-up paddlers on boards at local harbors and beaches.Jack Marshall Shimko
prefers to use his hands to paddle while kneeling or lying prone on his board. In fact, starting tomorrow, he'll use this method to paddle 150 miles, from Santa Barbara to his native Newport Beach. Not bad for a 30-year-old who just days after turning 29 learned he had Hodgkin's lymphoma and would have to withstand months of chemotherapy and other treatments.
Shimko's cancer is now in remission, and the veteran waterman would like to celebrate that fact with his solo "PADDLE2LIVE--150 Miles 4 Cancer" fundraiser, which aims to collect $500,000 for the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Foundation Center and LIVESTRONG, the organization founded by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.
The motto for the Shimko-founded nonprofit PADDLE2LIVE and his first-ever event is, "It's Too Easy To Give Up."
"It's great to be able to use my own survival to raise awareness and help fund the type of research that saved my life," Shimko says in the event announcement. "In the end, though, PADDLE2LIVE isn't about me. It's about contributing to the fight against cancer and the search for a cure, and it's about inspiring other young people to beat the disease and live their dreams."
Shimko competed in the 2009 World Paddle Board Championship in San Francisco but, at that time, he was a mere 16 weeks into his nine-month chemotherapy treatment. He suffered from mild hypothermia and completed the race in last place. Rather than getting discouraged, he's used that race to pump himself up for this week's 150-mile challenge.
A ceremonial "paddle out" pushes off at 5 p.m. today from Santa Barbara's city harbor, with Shimko joined by other paddlers, surfers, survivors, supporters and others affected by cancer. A reception follows at the Endless Summer Bar-Café at 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara.
His first 29-mile leg begins at 4:30 a.m. Thursday, and Shimko is to arrive for a final 3.5-mile paddle through Newport Beach's bay at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. Friends, family and local paddlers are invited to join him in the water and at a post-paddle barbecue at Newport Beach Aquatic Center that will include grub, live music, a silent auction and refreshments.
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While it's a solo paddle, Shimko is getting plenty of assistance. Quiksilver, LIVESTRONG, Surfline, Trac Plus, FRS Health Energy, Joe Bark Paddleboards, Haze Media, Rodheim Marketing Group, Duffy Boats, Balboa Boat Rentals, Hill's Boat Service Inc., Bear Flag Fish Co. and the city of Newport Beach have all contributed support.
Newport Harbor High School graduate Frank Marshall and his wife and fellow Hollywood movie producer Kathleen Kennedy are providing a mobile production crew to capture the paddle from start to finish. Videos will be uploaded daily via satellite to www.paddle2live.org. Footage will also be used in an upcoming documentary featuring Shimko and other young athletes who have triumphed over cancer.
According to his announcement, Shimko "will receive crucial safety, support and tracking assistance along the route, which includes several deep-water channel crossings in
known shark habitats."
You can help without wading into known shark habitats by sending generous donations to quiksilverfoundation.org/donate.