Fund-raiser for Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and Surfrider Emerald Coast

Cape May, NJ-  On Monday, July 11th, ocean paddler Margo Pellegrino will depart on a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board on a non-stop paddling excursion headed to Sandy Hook, NJ.  She will paddle through the night and expects to complete the 127 miles of the NJ coast by Tuesday afternoon.  The paddle will commence at 7am, Monday, July 11th, from the sandy cove by the Cape May Nature Center.

She will take travel up the coast and will be escorted and supported by a series of volunteer chase boats along her journey.  Stand up paddle surfing (SUP) is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage, and has taken the NJ beaches by storm over the past few years.  The board Margo will be paddling has been donated by Starboard SUP and will be raffled off on September 10 at the Surfrider Foundation/Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project which is being held in Brigantine.  Proceeds of the raffle will be split 50/50 between Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) and Surfrider Emerald Coast.

The paddle itself is a fund-raiser for those two organizations, where supporters are asked to “sponsor” a mile segment of the Jersey coast by donating to either organization through her website at  Her url takes its name from the first coastal paddle Margo had undertaken, from Miami to Maine in summer 2007 via outrigger canoe.  Following that journey, Margo has continued to make long coastal paddles with the goal of educating as many people as possible about the problems of the ocean, and what can be done now to make reverse this decline.  She has also paddled the Gulf coast from north of Miami to New Orleans in 2009 and from Seattle to San Diego last summer.

“Why shift gears and combine the ocean mission with a childhood cancer mission?”, Margo says.  “Well, I’ve got a good friend who’s living what is every parent’s worst nightmare, a child with cancer, diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma, and not a day goes by when I don’t think about her and her family. If given the chance to help, how could I not in some way help them and others going through the same horrible ordeal.  There are many factors that contribute to the rising rates of neuroblastoma, and Dr. John Maris of Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is working on the genetic markers for the disease in order to better tailor treatments. It’s our hope that there will eventually be a cure. One never knows where a cure might come from. AZT is a chemical copy of a chemical produced by an ocean-living sponge. What other cures might be found in the ocean? What discoveries might we miss if we continue along this path of ocean degradation and destroy potential cures before they can be discovered?”

The other beneficiary of the paddle is Surfrider Emerald Coast, in support of its Gulf Beach Water Quality Monitoring Program.  The program was established in response to the minimal efforts made by state and federal agencies to monitor against the effects of the Gulf oil spill last year.  Local surfers and swimmers have suffered from burning eyes and mouths, blistering noses and have developed acid-type rashes since the spill. Surfrider’s monitoring program – funded by individual donations – was established to help identify what chemicals are in the water that might be causing these symptoms.  More info about SF Emerald Coast Chapter’s water testing program can be found through links on Margo’s website.