Paddleboarding for a positive cause | SierraSun.com

Paddleboarding for a positive cause

Sylas WrightSierra Sun

Keith Sheffield/Tahoe WorldTwo paddleboarders slowly make their way across Lake Tahoe this past week. Early Monday morning, an assembled group of about 20 world-class athletes will paddleboard the length of the lake as a fundraiser for injured U.S. service members.

Professional paddleboarders they are not. Robb Gaffney knew as much when he assembled this group of world-class athletes to paddleboard the 22-mile length of Lake Tahoe.Id say the majority of them will have paddleboarded only about two or three times before they cross the lake, said Gaffney, a Tahoe City physician and organizer of the Lake Tahoe Crossing fundraiser. Not to worry, Gaffney said. With the collective skill and mettle of this bunch, theyll figure it out if they havent already.One of the things about this is that it shows how you can do anything if you put your mind to it, Gaffney said.Set for Monday beginning at the crack of dawn Gaffney estimates a 6:15 departure the Lake Tahoe Crossing is intended to raise awareness and funding for U.S. service members suffering from traumatic brain injury, combat stress and other war-related injuries. Skiskills.com, a division of Epic Way Sports, is teaming up with the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation to raise the funds.Along with a handful of support boats in case weather turns nasty, and to carry members of the media, the gang plans to set off from Camp Richardson near the South Shore and finish roughly five hours later in Incline Village. Theyre leaving open the possibility of changing the route, depending on wind direction and water conditions.Gaffney rounded up about 20 skiers, snowboarders, surfers, mountain climbers and disabled athletes, both locally and from out of the area, to paddle for the cause. Included in that group are Truckees Daron Rahlves, Nate Holland, Mark Wellman and Jeremy Jones, as well as Squaw Valleys Jonny Moseley, Hawaiian big-wave surfer Dave Kalama and more. Gaffney will paddle, too.Its going to be a challenge to do it, but its for the Woodruff Foundation, so its for a good cause, said Rahlves, one of the most accomplished downhill skiers in U.S. history. Itll bring awareness. And its with a good group of guys, so it should be fun.Having never paddleboarded before, Rahlves spent nearly two hours making a lap around Donner Lake on Thursday morning.I dont know. I dont think you can really get ready for (the Lake Tahoe Crossing) in three or four attempts, he said, adding that he thinks the trip will take at least six hours to complete. My hands got a little raw from the constant paddling.Nevertheless, he got the feel down, for the most part. Now hes looking forward to the experience.Ive never done it before, so I figured Id give it a shot. Im not an endurance guy, so well see what happens. But I think a lot of the other guys will be struggling, too, he said.Holland conceded he may be one of them.I am a full rookie. Ive paddleboarded once, said Holland, an Olympian and X Games gold medalist in boardercross. Its pretty cool, though. Its a good balance exercise and a great reason to get out on the water and cruise around.Im hoping the wind picks up so I can surf out there.It may, in which case the group would consider taking on the 12-mile width of Tahoe instead. I was kind of rooting for the width, myself, Holland said. But Ill try the length.While the fundraising event will not resemble a race of any sort more like an armada of novice paddleboarders poking along at no-wake speed such a group of athletes may bring with them some level of competitiveness.I expect to win. Im going to paddle as hard as I can for the first half-hour, Rahlves said jokingly. More seriously, though, I just hope to make it and not drown, he said.

Donations for the Lake Tahoe Crossing can be made directly to the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation at http://remind.org. Bob Woodruff was an ABC News anchorman who himself suffered a near-fatal traumatic brain injury in January 2006 when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle while he was on assignment in Iraq. While recovering from his injuries, Woodruff and family members founded the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation to assist others by funding advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support and resources for injured service people.

Dave Kalama (Big wave Surfer)Jonny Moseley (Olympic moguls skier)Daron Rahlves (Olympic downhill skier)Kyle Oneal (Skiskills)Jeremy Jones (Big mountain snowboarder)Julian Carr (Big Mountain skier)Arne Backstrom (Big mountain skier)Steve Gaffney (Photographer)Nate Holland (Olympic snowboarder)Jeff Denholm (Ambassador of surfing for Patagonia)Mark Wellman (Paraplegic rock climber)Chris Tatsuno (Big Mountain skier)Clem Smith (Blizzard rep)Craig Sorensen (Navy Top gun)Jason Abraham (Photographer)Chuck Patterson (Big mountain skier, big wave surfer,)Ken Skindog Collins (big-wave surfer)Igor KrtolicaHunter ClaxtonRobb Gaffney