This grass roots movement began with a simple idea: To give back and support those who have given whatever it took. In 2014, a group of local firefighters engaged in a grueling kayaking trip, paddling the Neuse River, starting in North Raleigh at Falls Lake, to New Bern, a total of 193 miles. They asked for a minimum sponsorship of just a penny a mile, totaling $1.93.
Past recipients of Paddling for Pennies, who have become part of our family, are:
- Firefighters Assisting Armed Forces Families (FFAAFF)
- My US VeteranCorp (MYUSVC).
They also used donations to assist at least two families of veterans.
The following year, the group supported Ian S. McClanahan who was wounded in a training incident in Nevada. He was also a Volunteer Firefighter in the small town of Fremont, NC. He was treated at Walter Reed and endured over 140 surgeries, and is expected to have hundreds more. In addition, the money assisted injured US Marine Ryan Wightman and his wife Melissa.
In 2016, they again supported those two organizations, and they additionally chose Kimberly Fix, a combat veteran who suffered a severe Traumatic Brain Injury after being rear ended on the Italian highway in Vicenza, Italy while serving.
In 2017, the firefighters sponsored the family of Dane Waggett, a firefighter, in his honor. Dane who suffered a brain aneurysm and passed away on the operating table in January 2017.
In 2018, we paddled for the legacy and family of Will Willis. Will was an engineer with the Asheville fire department. He lost his battle with Kidney cancer on his 34th birthday in February. He leaves behind his wife and his four young kids.
We also paddle to bring recognition to the growing problem cancer is having on the fire service. Cancer is the number one killer of firefighters now. Until March of 2017 cancer did not apply for any line of duty benefits from the state of North Carolina. Now there are 4 cancers on the books but many more needed including the one Will passed from. We need your help in lessoning the burden of these bills plus educating the public and legislators.