More than 60 athletes donned wetsuits and braved the cold water last month to paddle 27 miles from Fort Desoto Park, in St. Petersburg, to Lido Key Beach to raise money for the Wounded Warriors Project.
Siesta Key resident, Abe Uccello, was among the paddlers in the event, which he says raised more than $2,500 for wounded veterans and their families. The event, called Paddle with Purpose, drew prone paddling enthusiasts from all over the country.
“It was just amazing to be paddling with these people, who are sort of legends in this particular sport,” says Uccello. “These are world-class athletes, and the overall awareness we raised was really good.”
Uccello says that cold weather and choppy waters made the paddle especially difficult, but that the cause made the efforts worthwhile. Toward the end of the trip, it began to rain, and the water temperature dropped below 50 degrees.
“During the final 8 miles, I had nothing left,” he says. “I hit several walls. But, it was an incredible journey, and I just kept thinking about the families that would benefit.”
Although the event is over, Uccello encourages supporters to donate to the Wounded Warriors Project by visiting highfivetour.com.