LITTLETON, Colo. (KDVR) — Mike Aidala scanned the water at Chatfield State Park in Littleton. Then he carefully unhooked the ties securing a brightly colored paddleboard to the top of his truck.
“It’s really fun for me to kind of push to my edges, learn what I’m made of,” Aidala said in a moment of reflection.
Aidala, an endurance athlete from Boulder, set a world record in March with a Turkish get-up lift total of 13,823 pounds in one hour. He’s pumped about another Herculean challenge that includes three of his friends. They signed up for an open-ocean paddleboard adventure.
“We don’t know what the conditions are like, but it’s 80 miles, so we’re guessing [it will take] between 15 and 18 hours” to finish the race, Aidala said confidently.
Paddleboarding through shark-infested water
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s upward of 18 hours paddling 80 miles from Bimini in the Bahamas to Lake Worth Beach, Florida, through shark-infested water. Why can’t this group of friends play it safe like most other foursomes, with a game of golf?
“I don’t think you get to see the person that lives in the pain cave with you playing golf,” said Scott Brundage, a return-to-sport therapist.
“Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis”, the paddleboard race Aidala and his friends are training for, hits close to home for Alex Newkerk.
“We get to use our physical fitness and our willingness to suffer a little bit to help other people out and raise money for a really good cause,” Newkerk said before the group launched their paddleboards on the southern end of Chatfield Reservoir.
Newkerk’s 10-year-old niece Ellyanna lives with the disease. Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis is an annual endurance event that benefits a Florida-based non-profit organization called the Piper’s Angels Foundation, which provides financial support for families in need.
“Piper’s Angels Foundation pushes a lot of mental health therapy, saltwater therapy for these cystic fibrosis patients,” Newkerk said.
Piper’s Angels Foundation to benefit
Big picture, this Colorado contingent, which calls themselves Elly’s Angels V23, has already raised nearly $12,000 for the Piper’s Angels Foundation.
The fundraising has helped them keep their minds off the other big picture: what it will take to finish this epic paddleboard race.
“I think it’s like eating an elephant: You don’t really think about the outcome,” joked Beau Dorning, the owner and head coach of V23 Athletics in Centennial. “We’re just going to focus on our breathing and keep paddling. Small bites, try to be present. Enjoy every hour out on that water and keeping in mind who we’re doing it for and what we’re doing it for.”
That is all the motivation they need as Elly’s Angels V23 continue to prepare for the 80-mile paddleboard challenge set to start, weather permitting, between June 22-26.
For more information on Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis or how you can donate to Elly’s Angels V23, visit their donation page.