RYE, New Hampshire - On July 23, eighteen paddle boarders will set out to complete a round trip paddle to the Isles of Shoals as part of the event called the Stand Up for Littles IOS Invitational. As a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire (BBBSNH), the charity paddle to the island chain, which is located approximately 6 miles off the New Hampshire coast, has become a staple in the Northern New England paddle board scene, and a bucket list event for many.
“When I first set out to complete a solo expedition to the shoals in 2013, I had no idea that this paddle would spark such an interest in so many paddlers, or be responsible for raising so much support for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program,” explained Chris Carragher, the event’s founder.
Carragher, a life-long surfer, set his mind on making the 16+ mile paddle four years ago after paddle boarding for the very first time, and becoming a Big Brother to a 5-year-old boy named Caden.
Photos via: Chris Carragher
“At the time, I thought it would be cool to demonstrate to Caden that he can do anything if he stays focused and works hard,” says Carragher. “After completing the paddle as a fundraiser that year, I started receiving messages from other paddlers that wanted to join me the next year, and the year after that.”
Now in its fourth year, the Stand Up For Littles IOS Invitational paddle is expected to raise more than $20K for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire.
“Stand Up For Littles is such a unique way to bring visibility to the need for mentors in our community,” says BBBSNH Development Director Nicole McShane. “As a Big Brother, Chris shows how an individual can have such a big impact on a child.
“Mentors really make a difference! It’s just four hours a month and the program helps kids gain confidence and avoid risky behavior.”
In preparation for this year’s fundraiser, Carragher introduced the Seacoast Paddleboard Club in the Spring of 2016. While hosting regularly scheduled events, like training and community paddles, the club is focused on uniting the local paddle board community through on-water and off-water programs. As an extension of the philanthropic work the group does on behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the club donates 50% of all membership dues to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation or the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP).
Photo via: Chris Carragher
If you’d like to support a paddler through the Stand Up For Littles’s IOS paddle, please visit the charity’s official fundraising page on Crowdrise. To learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister or in enrolling your child in the program, call 1-844-NH4-BIGS or [email protected]