The fourth-annual PIHL Law Paddle for Prevention has about 36 teams competing for the coveted gold paddle.
The fundraiser benefits BrainTrust Canada, a non-profit organization that provides services and support to those affected with brain injury.
According to BrainTrust Canada, approximately 1.5 million people in Canada are living with a brain injury. The statistic is higher than breast cancer, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis and HIV/AIDS combined.
All funds from the event stay in the Okanagan to support local residents.
The standup paddleboard relay race has teams of four paddling 100-metre sprints around a buoy and back. Both the fastest and slowest teams have the chance of advancing to the finals, which adds an element of fun and fairness to the event.
Prizes include a trip for two anywhere West Jet flies.
Magda Kapp is the director of prevention services and community engagement at BrainTrust Canada in Kelowna. She says brain injuries can happen from a variety of accidents, like motor vehicle crashes and falls, as well as from illnesses like meningitis or stroke.
“We have a really strong focus on brain injury education and prevention, especially for youth, because they are the most at risk,” Kapp said. “Up to 90 per cent of brain injuries are preventable.”
Bonita Summers is a volunteer yoga instructor at BrainTrust and says she is amazed at what her clients achieve during her classes.
“Some of them are dealing with injuries that they’ve struggled with for a couple of decades, chronic nerve pain, one side of the body not doing what the other side can do and they’re my inspiration,” Summers said. “They’re having to get up and show up every day with bodies that just don’t work as well as they used to and [have] the courage it takes just to show up.”
Dena Schultz’s 12-year-old daughter, Zara, suffered a brain injury in 2015. The family has been attending the fundraiser ever since in hopes of raising awareness and funds for the cause.
“It’s an ongoing chronic situation with brain injury so we’re still trying to figure it out,” Schultz said.
Paddle for Prevention is hoping to raise $50,000, a goal Kapp says has almost been reached. Those wanting to get involved can visit BrainTrust Canada to make a donation.
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