Welland teen creates SUP fundraiser for friends

An incredible story from a Welland teen, reprinted from the source, http://niagara.sportsxpress.ca/featured/welland-teen-creates-sup-fundraiser-for-friends/

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My name is Madeline Leblanc, and I am here to tell you the story of a personal fundraiser I created at age 17 in honour of two friends I lost to cancer. Ever since I was ten I had always wanted a stand up paddleboard. I got to try it out once on Lake Huron and fell in love. As I continued saving years passed, and in 2011 I lost two friends of mine due to cancer. On March 13th Lynn Lambert who was a high school teacher at Centennial and also my next-door neighbor passed away at 37.  Julia Turner was 15 years old when she passed from a brain tumor on December 23rd that same year. Julia went to my high school Notre Dame, and I got to know her through my grade nine-drama class.

Ever since their passing I wanted to do something to honour their wonderful lives. They both taught not only me but also all of Welland to treasure every moment of your life, and dedicate yourself to helping others when you can. They were amazing role models and deserve to be remembered. Finally in 2012 my family and I had enough money to buy a SUP board, and got it on Christmas morning that year. It was the best surprise ever! I began to take my board out frequently to the Welland Canal and have enjoyed paddling ever since. One summer day in 2013 when I was paddling, the idea of creating a SUP fundraiser just popped into my head. I started thinking about how I could turn this dream into reality. In February of 2014 I called the City of Welland Mayors Office, and spoke with Barry Sharpe about my idea of paddling 10km down the Welland Canal to raise funds for brain cancer research in honour of Julia and Lynn. He said it was an amazing idea, and from there I spoke with the Welland Recreational Canal Corp. to get the fundraiser up and running. I decided to call it ‘On Board’ because so many people were on board with my idea.

Now that On Board was official I started getting sponsors, creating t-shirts and spreading the word all around Welland about my fundraiser. My friends and family were truly remarkable and supported me the whole time. On Thursday July 10th 2014 I paddled 10km down the Welland Canal and raised over $4000 for brain cancer research with the Canadian Cancer Society. It was a fun filled day with free SUP demos hosted by Ausmosis Board Works (one of my sponsors) and over 100 people who came and waited for me at the end of the canal to come watch me finish. The atmosphere was indescribable, because I could not believe all of the people who came to support my ride, but also to celebrate the lives of Julia and Lynn. When they passed I never got a chance to say goodbye, and On Board for me felt like the perfect way to say just that.

With such a successful year I have decided to host On Board again this summer on Thursday July 23rd 2015. The event will be similar to last year, however I am inviting anyone who would like to come out and paddle with me 10km down the Welland Canal in honour of Julia and Lynn. My returning sponsors are Ausmosis Board Works, Impact Promotions Niagara, and Miss Dars School of Dance. My new sponsors are Surf the Greats, Proteus Clothing Co., Vesuvius Canada and Brailey&Chambers Bookkeeping Services. I am looking forward to another fun day of paddling and I hope you can join me!

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Photo by Anthony Gallaccio

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