It was a long day on the water, roughly seven-and-a-half hours, for paddlers on an 18-mile trek from Montauk to Block Island on Saturday. The group was 49 strong, along with dozens of others on support boats and jet skis, all raising money for Paddlers for Humanity, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children on the East End.
In the end, roughly $130,000 was raised, with more expected to come in over the next week, Fred Doss, Paddlers for Humanity’s co-president, said on Monday. Doss said all 49 paddlers were asked to raise at least $1,500, but many went beyond that number. Three paddlers, in particular, including Geoff Haenn, Katie Osiecki and Pino Daddi, each raised more than $6,000 for the charity.
“It was a long day, but as always, we had a great group of people, a lot of good cheer and we just worked through it,” Doss said.
Conditions were calm, a little too calm, with hardly any wind or tides at the paddlers’ backs. If anything, the tide was pushing the paddlers back toward Montauk.
“The tide was not as favorable as we had hoped, but for the most part, people were staying with it,” Doss said, adding that 13-year-old Sag Harbor native Maeve O’Donoghue completed the paddle as the youngest ever competitor. “She was great, she had a smile on her face and good spirits,” Doss said.
Paddlers for Humanity, in recent years, has sought to better the lives of children while focusing, in particular, on programs that deal with mental health issues, including early intervention and anti-bullying programs. The Bridgehampton School has been a productive partner for the last several years, according to Doss, who said teachers Jeff Neubauer, Cameron Kaiser and Meredith McArdle all paddled on Saturday, along with student Elijah White.
“To their great credit, they took some of our funds and started all these great programs,” Doss said. “Some funds went to robotics, some to the new farm stand. They’re learning business practices and farming practices. Jeff started a shark-tagging program. They’ve been really creative.”
Doss said Paddlers for Humanity will continue to raise funds for different local organizations in need, but said that moving forward he would also like to expand what his group has to offer with more volunteer work and hands-on support in the field.
“This coming year we would like to deepen our relationship with the community and organize some volunteer opportunities for the paddlers and anyone in their world in conjunction with some of the non-profits we support,” Doss said. “People are looking for ways to connect and there are a lot of different ways people can give back in a non-monetary way.”