The second Annual Standup for the Cure, Muskegon edition, hit the beach of Harbor Towne on Saturday morning to help continue the fight against breast cancer. The standup paddle board event is organized to help support the local affiliate of Susan G. Komen, a foundation dedicated to breast cancer research.
Support was strong with 540 registered paddlers getting into gear for the 5K race on Muskegon Lake.
“Five years ago we sat down around a table with the idea to put on a standup paddle event to benefit Susan G. Komen,” said National Event Director Dan Van Dyck, who helps assemble five SUP events around the world each year. “We help under-insured women get mammograms and in our series right on the beach, we’ve found eight women with breast cancer. We walked them through the Komen system and they are alive today because of this event.”
Last year’s event raised over $65,000 and this year’s fundraising has nearly reached $90,000.
Mercy Health was present to help with free screenings and to walk attendees through the process of getting checked. Ninety-nine percent of breast cancer is preventable if caught in its early stages, according to experts.
Getting involved early Saturday morning to put on a SUP clinic was 12-time stand up paddle world champion and the 2016 Ultimate Waterman champ, Zane Schweitzer, who traveled 60 hours to Muskegon with stops in Thailand, Japan and Bali.
“I arrived last night and I’m feeling fresh,” joked Schweitzer, who’s grandfather, Hoyle Schweitzer, had a large influence in the invention of the sport of windsurfing. “This kind of event really shows the true passion around the sport of stand up paddle. The support of family and friends for those who have cancer is what this is all about, having fun and saving lives.
“Growing up I was a professional windsurfer but since the sport of stand up paddle came along, I’ve been promoting this new sport and being an ambassador since day one for the last 12 years,” added Schweitzer, who had to compete in eight different water events from big wave surfing to water strength and endurance to be the Ultimate Waterman champ.
Schweitzer is a melanoma skin cancer survivor and has also seen his aunt win the fight too.
“We took my aunt out paddling one day and she brought up the courage after that paddle session to share with us that she had just been diagnosed with cancer. It is hard to get that thought off your mind and she felt so much better after paddling that day, she forgot about the stress and she said for a moment there on the water, she forgot about the cancer.
“That’s why we incorporate this sport. It’s an easy sport anyone can take up in minutes and it truly is a therapeutic activity.”
Here’s a list of the top finishers from the 5K SUP event:
12’6 Men: 1, Chris Matteson; 2, Micah Hammond; 3, Dave Mirade.
14′ Men: 1, Jim Mishiewicz; 2, Kevin Clark.
12’6 Women: 1, Kia Hammond; 2, Amie Stefanvich; 3, Kat Owens.
14′ Women: 1, Jala Wharton; 2, Kelly Sharkey.