Many in the stand-up paddling community are coming together to raise money for Raelyn Beckler, a 4-year-old who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.
Beckler was featured in my column about a year ago as many friends raised money for her at a Super Bowl party.
She is an adorable girl with a fighting spirit. Her father, Greg Beckler has nicknamed his only daughter, "Warrior Princess," as she has endured chemotherapy and several procedures that stem from the disease.
I am Facebook friends with Greg and when I see photos of Raelyn smiling through such adversity it always inspires me and produces a lump in my throat.
Greg, his wife Rebecca, and Raelyn, live in Dana Point, where the paddling will begin Monday morning. They're calling it, "The Paddle Royale." The fundraising event will end in Newport Harbor, as they are expected to arrive at SUPLove Beach and around Lido Isle. The stand-up paddlers can be tracked online on Facebook.
There are at least 15 teams, including some international paddlers, that are signed up to raise awareness and funds, according to information about the event on a YouCaring website page.
If Raelyn is feeling well, she is expected to be present with her mother on the event's escort vessel, Dawn Treader III, which has been donated by Monique Vigeant, the website said.
"There is no fee to join us and this is not a race," a message reads on the website. "Simply a gathering of hearts attempting to make a difference."
There is also a message from Greg.
"As a father of a child with leukemia I have watched my daughter survive the level of agony that no child should ever have to suffer. She has endured spinal taps, bone marrow biopsies, daily chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions, daily port-a-cath accesses, hundreds of doctor's visits, X-rays and large steroid doses all with the strength and resilience that children posses. She gives me the strength to not cry, even though I want to, as I don't won't her to know how afraid I am. This fear has been amplified with her reaction to the steroids which makes her psychotic and she doesn't understand why."
Money raised helps with all the costs the family is billed for Raelyn's plight. In addition to the funds, it will be great to see the SUP community moving up the coast for one great cause.