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The Send-Off

It was a typically gray, misty, and windy June day at Bainbridge Island’s Fay Bainbridge beach. Friends and acquaintances gathered to watch Steve embark upon the adventure of his life. Among these people were students from Ordway Middle School who had helped him collect and bring socks to folks living on the streets. There were men and women from his church, and friends from various places on and off the Island.

Everyone was cheerful and excited; and some, a little anxious. Father Mitchell of his home parish read from the Gospel of Mark about another sea passage. All were quiet as he said a prayer for Steve’s safety, then blessed The Paddler and his board.

Before wading into the choppy Puget Sound, Steve took a couple of minutes to thank everyone for their support and to say that the main part of this mission has been accomplished. Together, this community and many more have helped to get the message out that there are many veterans and mentally ill people still living homeless on the streets of our country’s cities. They need our help. A closer look at his paddle board shows two rows of silver bands with the names and I.D. numbers of American service people who have fought and died for our country. He’ll remember these veterans as he pushes his body across the cold Pacific waters.

“Whatever else happens on this journey is extra,” Steve said.

Packed, blessed and ready to go, Steve secured three large bags to his board. They contained everything he’ll need for the next couple of months – except for food and water. These essentials, he’ll replenish  at many stops along the way.

Steve turned for a final wave, stretched himself across his board, and paddled smoothly from the shore. He’s trained hard for this. He’s exactly where he wants to be.

The race officially begins at 5:00 a.m, Thursday, June 14. A beacon will be attached to Steve’s board for tracking. Regular updates of his whereabouts will be posted at https://r2ak.com. He’s listed under Team Extreme Sobriety.

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