Hamptons | Paddling Their Hearts Out For A Good Cause Page 1 of 5
Updated: September 2, 2009, 5:32 pm
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Paddling Their Hearts Out For A Good Cause
by Brett Mauser
Amagansett's Mike Bahel glides along during one of three laps on Fort Pond that added up
to four miles. Photos by Brett Mauser
Amagansett - For nearly half a decade, Paddlers 4 Humanity has combined outdoor
adventures by water and by land with vastly successful charity ventures. On Sunday, a wily
crew of stand-up paddlers successfully dodged any ill effects from Tropical Storm Danny
and added another profitable event with the P4H Four-Mile SUP Paddle and Surf Art
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Brian Hensler of East Hampton covered the four miles
in just under 52 minutes to take home first place.
Twenty-three participants made three loops within Fort Pond that added up to a challenging
four-mile trek. East Hampton's Brian Hensler, a member of the East Hampton Volunteer
Ocean Rescue Squad, was first across the finish line, completing the course in 51 minutes,
53 seconds. Amagansett's own Mike Bahel took second in 52:32 and Chris Grinnell of
Montauk with a time of 56:50. Jessica Bellofatto, founder and director of KamaDeva Yoga
in East Hampton, was the first woman across, notching a mark of 58:06.
P4H's Fred Doss, who co-directed the event with business partner Ed Cashin, estimated
that the race and auction brought in approximately $50,000, which the organization will
devote primarily to the East End Catastrophic Fund, which builds up food banks and
provides for families in need. Other beneficiaries include: The Retreat, a refuge for
domestic violence victims in East Hampton; the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center,
a not-for-profit that provides child care for working families; The PRASAD Project, which
provides mobile dental care to children in economically disadvantaged environments; and
Build On, an organization to which P4H has donated funds that will be put toward the
construction of a new school in Nicaragua this fall.
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The water was calm and the wind was light for the first annual four-mile stand-up paddle.
“The goal is to definitely go out and have a good time, and I think people do have a good
time, but the underlying reason to do this is to raise money," Doss said. “We look at all
these things as fundraisers. We're all volunteering so the good thing is almost every penny
that is raised can go out the door."
Caroline Cashin and Paddlers 4 Humanity co-founder Fred
Cashin was enthused about the post-race response from the community, much of which
suggested they enroll in and recruit for future events. The fifth annual Block Island paddle
is set for Sept. 13, with a minimum of $1,500 in fundraising due for each entrant. Cashin
expects it to consist of the largest field of paddlers in its history. Once that's complete, P4H
will then prepare for a full 2010 slate, beginning in April with the Hither Hills Off-Road
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“We want to max out participants in all our events, increase our exposure, increase revenue
and continue to give to these charities," Cashin said. “We're building the Catastrophic Fund
and focusing on helping out families in need in the wintertime. We want to make sure we
have a successful Block Island paddle and build strong momentum leaving the summer
going into the fall."
Surfboards designed by Raphael Mazzuczo (top), Sheila
Isham (middle) and Andre von Morrisse (bottom).
The auction, in which local artists customized surf boards, raised the majority of the funds.
A vivid board designed by Eric Freeman netted $17,000, a high on the day. Significant
contributions were also made for boards from Montauk-based Raphael Mazzucco,
Southampton's Sheila Isham and several others, as well as for a handmade wooden kayak.
Doss said he was encouraged that 12 of the 23 entrants on Sunday were women, further
building on last month's Wahine Women's Only 5-Mile Paddle, the first annual journey
from Louse Point to Maidstone Park.
The day's activities were postponed from Saturday to Sunday when early forecasts called
for Tropical Storm Danny to wreak havoc on the East End. It only brought steady rainfall,
but Doss said the move was necessary albeit costly as an estimated 10 or 12 entrants
weren't able to participate as a result of the switch. “The weather did clear later on Saturday
but in terms of setting the thing up, there was just no way we could have gone off on
Saturday," Doss said. “We had a lot to get out there. It was a good thing that we moved it.
It was unfortunate, but all in all, I think it worked out really well."
Paddlers 4 Humanity was formed in 2005 to help raise more than $400,000 for local,
national and international non-profit organizations in need of financial aid. Last year alone,
the three P4H fundraisers - the Montauk to Block Island Open 20-Mile Ocean Paddle, the
Along the Waterfence Paddle, and the Surf Art Auction at Montauk's Surf Lodge - raised
more than $140,000.
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Race competitors and friends enjoy a pleasant evening at the Surf Lodge in Montauk.