IMG_7326This past Sunday I was able to spend my weekend with a great group of people.

We Are Ocean  is a non profit organization based out of Newport Beach. Their mission statement is  “to improve the lives of cancer survivors post-treatment. We take cancer survivors on ocean-based adventures. We teach survivors how to surf, sail, swim, fish, dive and paddle their way back into a healthy active lifestyle, post-treatment.” It is an awesome organization ran and volunteered by even more awesome people.

IMG_7303I was excited to be involved and bring over 6-man outrigger canoes for them to paddle. All had never been in a canoe before! They had just finished their SUP paddling adventure and lunch, they were ready for something new! I taught them a little bit about the culture and history of outrigger canoe paddling, followed by a quick 1-2 step on how to paddle. Then we were off! Everyone had a great time, no one cared that the person behind them might splash them.  They took such joy in something that I get to do everyday. It made me realize why I still love paddling and why I still love coaching. It’s not all about the medals and miles, it’s about the connection you make with the people around you on the water. Sharing that with people and seeing how happy they can get from an activity I take for granted (and sometimes dread on bad practice days!). A woman even had said “Well I can cross this off my bucket list!” when she got out of the canoe. MIND. BLOWN.

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IMG_7304I loved the smiles on peoples faces.

I loved the new excitement they had for water sports.

I loved all the effort that We Are Ocean put into this event.

That day those people were more than just the tagged “Cancer Survivor”. They were paddlers, yogis, athletes, and students. They learned that they can still go on day to day and learn something new.

They weren’t just Cancer Survivors. They were strong individuals showing everyone what they are capable of.

They were supporters.

I can’t wait to be involved with the next We Are Ocean event (if they’ll take me ha!). Until then I’ll concentrate on my own paddling and training, and remind myself that some people aren’t lucky enough to paddle everyday like I do.

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