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Paddling for a Cause. Standing up for Veterans.

Stand Up For Veterans.

Event in Westport, Stand Up for Veterans
All the work is done. The team from Downunder SUP and Kayak taking a break after setting up the Stand Up for Veterans event. Photo by Charly Flanigan

The stories we hear. Our friends. Family members. Or even those we may not know. Who serve our country. Throughout the world. But when it is time to come home. It is our turn to support them. For all they do.

A week ago Sunday. Over 80 of us came together. Thanks to Karen, Kim and the team from Downunder. The goal was simple. To raise awareness. Money. And get together all to support those people in the military who do so much for us.

The event is called. Stand Up For Veterans. And we did just that.

A beautiful morning on the water paddling a picturesque New England water way.

A Community Experience.

Paddle Talk
On and off the water people gather. Connecting, sharing a common interest. Photo by Charly Flanigan

With paddlers from all over New England and some from far reaches of the country. Descending on the Southern Connecticut town of Westport. And the home of Downunder.

We were greeted with excitement in the air. The moment we left our car.

The water looked like that of a small pond. Mirroring the landscape that made up the shoreline. Mother Nature delivered a comfortable yet warm day. With the sun shinning down upon us.

Everyone was excited. Conversations started in the parking lot. Moved to the registration table. Then paused for the pre race meeting and National Anthem. They soon resumed on the way to the water. And even on the water throughout the race.

The courses had something for everyone. And we all paddled together. Sharing words of encouragement as we passed by each other. At the turning point on the Saugatuck River. A bridge heading into down town was lined with American Flags. Providing a reminder of how fortunate we are to be able to take part in this event.

At the completion of the course. We were greeted with cheers, music, high 5’s and bit of fun with some paddle squirt guns. Solidifying that the reason we do this is to have a fun with friends. On the water.

Giving Back.

The finish
Bill Kraft and Jeramie Vaine battling it out at the Stand Up for Veterans race in Westport, CT. Photo by Charly Flanigan

After we all finished on the water. We made our way back to the shop. Put our boards away and enjoyed food and some cold beverages. While we were catching up with new and old friends. We took a moment to peruse the raffle prizes adding a few more tickets to try our luck in winning.

There also was a donation jar for a member of the community and veteran who was taken way to soon. Cody Irons. Helping to raise money to support his family, most specifically his son.

Seeing people generously donating to the causes. Reminded me of the strength of this community. And the selflessness.

As my good friend Bill Kraft and I made our way back to the car. We crossed paths with more friends. Exchanging stories of paddling and life. Then as we drove north we both discussed how these type of events leave us with a special feeling.

Cementing a connection with a community. And an event. One that will bring me back again.

Thank you to the team at Downunder for hosting the event. And Charly Flanigan for capturing the moments on the water.

Talking about paddling
Having a chance to catch up with Kim from Downunder. The host of the Stand Up For Veterans. Photo by Charly Flanigan

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