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This year’s Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis bore witness to the occasional grace of the Atlantic Ocean by providing the calmest conditions this annual 80-mile paddle fundraising event has ever seen. Yet, the work of paddling 80 non-stop miles across the Florida Straits to become Iron Crusaders is never easy. 

Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis flower ceremony paddle circle
Paddlers gather in a moment of remembrance in Bimini of the Bahamas before they rally to the challenge of paddling 80 miles across the Gulf Stream.  Photo by: David Scarola

Bold in the Face of Fear: Crossing Warriors Make Landfall in Lake Worth, Florida

Athletes require stamina and mental strength to take on the challenge this paddle crossing provides. They offer their strength as a way to raise awareness for the debilitating conditions individuals with cystic fibrosis must face every day. By this event’s finale, 2022 crossing crusaders had raised over $453,000 in support of the cystic fibrosis community.  On a day like that, everybody wins.

An elite competitor list signs up for the annual Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis stand up paddle race which is part of this crossing. Athletes train for months, refine their nutrition intake and hydration as well as develop a mental game in order to face paddling through the night to land on Lake Worth’s beach by mid-day… if they can get across. This year’s competitive athletes endured mostly flat conditions with hot air flowing off of Florida’s mainland as they made the final approach to shore. World Record holder and stand up paddle veteran Victoria Burgess was there to greet them in timely interviews along with Andrea Ocampo of HBU Media. 

Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Florida night paddling
Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis paddlers launch at midnight and paddle through daybreak in order to make the beach landing mid-day in Florida.  Photo by: David Scarola

Iron Crusaders Todd Bourgeois & Kate McBride Claim Top Spots

In an incredible time of 12 hours, 54 minutes, and 9 seconds, Todd Bourgeois of St. Augustine, Florida and a 4X Crossing Crusader landed on Lake Worth Beach becoming the Overall Male Champion for this year’s Crossing. Tom paddled his 80-miles on a 14’ x 25” Flying Fish Freedom using his trusted Werner Paddle.

Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Todd
Todd Bourgeois says his “WHY” is to take on the discomfort of paddling 80-miles in order to offer his effort to CF warriors who struggle with their disease every day.  Photo by: David Scarola

He says, “As a 4th time Crossing Crusader, I can attest that this event is one of the most powerful experiences you can find on earth. Beyond the rad challenge of paddling 80-miles in the most beautiful water you’ve ever seen, what you get out of The Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis is much bigger. Your eyes and heart are opened to a community of people who regularly go through trials and tribulations of a chronic disease. You realize the impact cystic fibrosis (and other conditions) has on mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, family, friends, relationships, and the healthcare system in general. It becomes real and you feel how heavy it can be. The X4CF event you are participating in contributes to much needed awareness and support for this cystic fibrosis community. The “epic” paddle then becomes an expression of love for a greater cause. 

For me, deep share here, my goal as a Crossing Crusader is to paddle as hard as I can to experience pain and suffering, which allows me to discover the depths of my soul, and offer that up as an expression of epic love for those who didn’t choose to endure this chronic condition. This is my “why”. Not everyone needs to do it this way. Everyone’s expression is different which is also why this event is so extraordinary.”

– Todd Bourgeois, 2022 Crossing For CF Men’s Competitive Solo Champion

Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis
Photo by: David Sacral

Paddle Changes Perspective, Changes Lives says Kate McBride

In another heroic effort and crossing the finish line with a huge smile, the 2nd overall solo finisher after Bourgeois and 1st place female champion this year was Kate McBride, a 2X Crossing Crusader from Beachwood, New Jersey.  Kate’s incredible time of 14 hours, 18 minutes and 21 seconds was also paddled on a 14X25” Flying Fish Freedom with her Blackfish Paddle.

Kate McBride Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis
Kate McBride paddled through the finish line with a smile on her face and was greeted by her daughter on the sand.  Photo by: David Scarola

Kate explains, “Training for the Crossing was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding experiences of my life. 

For me, it meant training through a very cold winter in NJ, often paddling back and forth on 1/4 mile strip of water, since everything else was frozen. It meant 3AM wake-ups to get on the water before work. It meant constantly sacrificing free time to put in the miles and the reps. It also meant, however, that I was bettering myself for a reason far bigger than myself. I will always be proud to have raised over $6,500 for Piper’s Angels between 2021 and 2022, and I will always be proud that I went from a DNF in 2021 to winning in 2022 as a result of hard work, learning from my mistakes, and staying committed. I am proud to become one of the iron crusaders for this event.

The Crossing taught me to stay on my path and remain focused on my goals, even if I don’t attain them on the timeline that I had initially planned. I am so thankful to have had this experience, and to have been able to play a small part in furthering the mission of the Piper’s Angels Foundation.”

– Kate McBride, 2022 Crossing For CF Women’s Competitive Solo Champion

Sounds like words the hearts of two champions in every sense of the word. Aloha Todd & Kate, we salute you!

Iron Crusaders:  Paddlers Who Stay On the Water for 80 Miles

Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis Iron Crusaders stand up paddlers
Iron Crusaders:  The above list represents the courageous paddlers who stayed on the water, without coming aboard any boat for their full crossing from Bimini to Lake Worth, Florida.

Registration for the 2023 Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis opens on August 1st, 2022!  Are you ready to take on the challenge?

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