The Harbor Report: Paddling for a good cause

This is my 15th week writing the Pilot's harbor column, and I would like to thank you for all of your encouraging e-mails and in-person comments about how much you like my fresh approach to reporting on our magnificent harbor.

Yes, you have it right. It's time I ask for a favor from my readers and pass around the basket. A close friend of mine, Mat "Mersh" Marshall, contacted me to bring public awareness to Livestrong. Please take a look at its website and, should you get so moved, please donate some of your hard-earned income.

Marshall called me about three weeks ago and said, "Hey, Len how are sales? I would like to tell you about Jack Shimko and the Paddle2live project. Do you have a couple of minutes?"

I have known Mersh for a long time, and if he feels strongly about a project, it's something that I will take interest in. He is that type of friend.

We talked for about a half an hour and I then went over to, the Paddle2live website, and read up on Jack Shimko and his fight with stage 2B Hodgkin's lymphoma. All the information about Jack's efforts to raise awareness and money for Livestrong by paddleboarding from Santa Barbara to Newport Beach from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 is on this webpage.

I was fortunate to make contact with Jack, between his training efforts, to ask him a couple of questions.

How have you been feeling?

"I think good," he said. "It is problematic because I am shifting my body through all of this new training and nutrition. It is a big difference eating the types of calories that I am eating now every day. In terms of cancer, I am feeling good! And healthy as I have ever felt."

What have you been doing for training?

"I do a series of paddling, cross-fit and running to get in shape," he said. "I have been spending 40 to 70 hours a week. Each paddle is between four to six hours, and in my spare time I am busy raising $500,000 for cancer research and treatment."

Why did you pick paddling to raise awareness?

"I got hooked because I did the World Championships on the North Shore of Oahu, and soon after that I was diagnosed with cancer," he said. "I got hooked by the paddling in the race and then the next thing in my mind was cancer treatment."

What type of board will you be using?

"I am bringing three Joe Bark paddleboards that were very generously donated. The main board is an Unlimited, a 14-footer and a stocker. Stock is a 12-foot, and the Unlimited is 18.6-foot."

Willpower and determination. Have you had any special training regarding this subject?

"Chemotherapy is my training," he explained. "I have no special training, but it was the only thing I had to get me through. Isn't this what everyone turns to?

"But I definitely think my cancer treatment and chemo pushed that determination to a new level — that's the genesis of Paddle2Live — I want to see what happens when I push it even further."

While writing these questions I hear the count down clock on your website, and I cannot help but think you hear this same clock in your head while fight this cancer. How do you deal with it?

"I don't know ... I try to blank out that clock," he said. "Part of me doesn't think in terms of a countdown; I would say if anything the clock is ticking to get me out of this treatment and into the next phase of my life, raising money to help others fight this disease and to help researchers find a treatment."

Thank you for your time, Jack, and best of luck to you down the course.

"Sure, Len. Anytime. And if any of your readers would like to come out for my arrival at the finish, the local paddle community, along with friends, family and supporters will join me for the final 3.5-mile paddle through Newport Beach bay," he said. "A celebration will follow at NAC (Newport Beach Aquatic Center), with a barbecue from Bear Flag Fish Co., live music [TBA], silent auction, refreshments and much more."

So, please go to the Paddle2Live website and keep an eye open for Jack's daily updates and streaming video. Also take a special look at all the Newport Harbor sponsors. Please consider purchasing some ad space.

Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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