2012-08-10 / Community

Stand Up And Paddle For CF 8/18

By Ana Solares


The Third Annual Uncle Richie Paddle was held last year at Riis Landing. The Third Annual Uncle Richie Paddle was held last year at Riis Landing. FDNY Squad Co. 1 firefighters and the Friends of Tribute Park will be joining together to host the first annual Stand Up paddling event on August 18. Spearheaded by Dennis Farrell, a retired firefighter who served in the Rockaways for 21 years, the event will launch at Tribute Park in honor of the heroes of 9/11 and flight 587, with all proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Lunch and T-shirts will also be available for a ticket entry of $40.

Farrell, who also oversees the annual Uncle Ritchie Paddle for MS, has based past events on the memory of the medical struggles members of his family had to overcome, as well as his own love of stand up paddling.

“I started the Uncle Ritchie Paddle for MS because my mother, who’s 89 now, had MS. She’s a survivor now but my whole life I saw what the disease did to her. I also had a brother who died of a heart attack, and people called him Uncle Ritchie, so I guess this is a way to honor them both,” said Farrell. In past years, the 7-mile paddling event has raised $4,000 for multiple sclerosis.

This year, the new paddling event is ‘different’ and holds a new meaning for Farrell.

“I walked into Tribute Park and it’s just this nice big spot. I’m from the fire company Squad 1, and we lost 12 men in our firehouse. I thought it would be a nice way to remember them.”

Cystic Fibrosis is also one the main focuses of the event and children with the disease will be featured as the main participants.

“We thought it would be a nice change for the kids. Instead of working their muscles with their usual exercises, they can paddle,” Farrell said.

The event will begin with a prayer by a fire department chaplain and run from Tribute Park on Beach116 Street to Riis Landing for a total 2.5 mile course. For more experienced paddlers, races will be looped back to Tribute Park. The day will end with a lunch in Tribute Park.

A paddler and surfer of 50 years, the water sport lover is hoping for a good turnout.

“The purpose of this event is to remember our heroes, to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, but it is also to promote stand up paddling and the joy of being out on the water. It’s a great experience to be one with nature, without the noise of cars and other things,” said Farrell.

“It’s the first year we’re doing this and we’re hoping a lot of people come out and support us.” Twenty people have already signed up for the event, Farrell says, and he is trying to have more sign up on a ‘pre-sign up’ list he has posted on his Facebook page.

A raffle and prizes for the fun day out on the water will be available, among them surfer T-shirts and a grand prize of a one week stay in Puerto Rico.

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