The Friendship Paddle organizes open ocean paddle events to provide emotional and financial support to Santa Barbara community members fighting life-threatening illnesses. The Friendship Paddle was created in 2003 to support Doug McFadden, a 39-year-old husband and father of two children, who had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. His group of friends were looking for ways to support Doug and his family and, as watermen, they looked to the ocean for solace. A plan was formed to get a group of friends together to paddle across the Santa Barbara channel to raise funds for Doug and his young family as well as to challenge themselves with a demanding task as a show of solidarity with Doug and the difficult struggle he was engaged in. The epic journey started at Forney’s Cove on the west end of Santa Cruz Island and ended with a landing party at Hope Ranch Beach. The adventure that day changed lives, not just for Doug and his family, but for everyone involved. And so began The Friendship Paddle.
The Friendship Paddle celebrates and supports a selected honoree each year and, while the framework is the same as far as hosting an annual paddle event, the paddle routes and landing events are unique for each honoree. The Santa Barbara Yacht Club serves as the perfect partner and landing spot to celebrate the end of our epic paddles. The Friendship Paddle community has grown from the small group of friends honoring Doug to over 150 paddlers and over 1,500 donors annually. Even more importantly, through time spent together on and off the ocean, The Friendship Paddle has grown into a cohesive community that supports our honorees as well as each other. In regard to our non-profit fundraising efforts, every dollar raised goes directly to our honorees for their unrestricted use. Please visit www.friendshippaddle.org for more information.