By Steven Banks
Q: You are getting ready to attempt a non-stop, 24-hour, consecutive paddle of a kayak on March 30th and 31st, Easter weekend. This is your second attempt and last year you were almost struck by lightning after 13 ½ hours of paddling. What motivates you to put your health, and for that matter, your life on the line to attempt this?
A: Quite honestly, I have a very bad addiction to helping people. But unfortunately, I do not have the finances to support this habit on my own. So my wife and I started Dreamlander Tours so we could build our business to bless others and, in doing so, our business would be blessed. My “addiction” leads me to attempt crazy fundraising events like this to raise awareness towards families and organizations in need around the world. These people desperately need our help and everyone else’s. Through Kayak Marco 24, we want to change lives, and in some cases, save lives.
Q: This event is being billed as a World Record kayak paddle attempt. Many people are questioning this fact. Could you please explain what guidelines are being used to determine if this is, in fact, a World Record or not?
A: Over the years there have been many claims to many different kayaking records. In some cases, highly modified and customizes boats, which were classified as kayaks were used for speed records. In other cases involving distance records, the paddlers take breaks to rest, drink water, use the bathroom, in some cases, sleeping on land at night.
Although any record attempt is an amazing feat in my mind, modern technology now allows us to scientifically track movement, speed, height, and almost every condition possible through GPS technology. Past records were less scientific and more he said/she said. My World Record attempt is for the longest consecutive time period of nonstop paddling of a kayak; not a distance record; not a speed record. It is simply a time period endurance record that is scientifically tracked and monitored. The technology will be used as evidence of this feat and be turned over to several organizations that specialize in using this type of data to determine if it is, in fact, a World Record.
Quite honestly, I do not really care if my name is in any record books, (although my children seem to think that this would be cool). If you think about it, it sort of stinks that I have to attempt extreme physical endurance events like this to raise awareness for so many people that are not as fortunate as most of us. I wish everybody believed that we are all brothers and sisters of this earth and that we should help our brothers and sisters that are less fortunate. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be compelled to de this. Besides I’m 42 years old – I’m not a kid anymore.
Q: In most pictures you are not seen wearing your personal flotation device (PDF). Isn’t this against the law?
A: Yes, in most pictures I am not seen wearing my life jacket. Florida law requires adults to always have a personal flotation device on board a vessel at all times – the same rules apply for boating. Also, same as in boating, is that adult passengers do not have to be wearing their PDFs at all times. They only need to have them aboard the vessel. For the thousands of kayak tour guests we take on our world famous “Dolphin’s & Friends” kayak tours, we require those 16 and under to wear their PDF at all times (even though the law is of a younger age). We also suggest that those who are not strong swimmers or those who have had past heart conditions to either not kayak, or at the very least, wear their PDFs at all times. I will not be wearing my PDF during the 24-hour paddle due to the fact that that it creates excruciating chafing over such a long time period of paddling. But rest assured, my PDF will be strapped to my seat, and I will be obeying all laws and requirements as set forth by all law enforcement agencies.
Q: Who or what charities are you trying to raise awareness for?
Our business, Dreamlander Tours, donates $2 from every tour towards supporting a family consisting of a blind woman and her epileptic son in Cuaravaca, Mexico. My best friend, Benito died of meningitis here in Southwest Florida two years ago, and his last wish was that I help take care of his family in Mexico. I have and will continue to do so.
We also have other local programs such as our “WISHES” free tour program for terminally ill children and their families and other local organizations that the funds from our business support.
With Kayak Marco 24, I am trying to raise awareness, and of course, monetary funds for two other very important organizations that are not just changing lives, but, in many cases, saving them. The first organization is called Partners in Malawi. They are a free medical clinic located in Malawi, Africa. This organization has and continues to save hundreds and thousands of lives every year. Learn more at www.partnersinmalawi.org.
The second organization is called Blood Water Missions. It is an organization that builds fresh water wells throughout third world countries. They also have many other services such as medicine for people living with HIV in Africa, skills training programs and more. Hundreds of children around the world are dying every day due to the lack of fresh water. Most diseases that lead to the death of these children are related to consumption of a contaminated water supply. This is totally unacceptable in my eyes and can be prevented. Learn more at www.bloodwatermissions.org
Q:What can local businesses do to help or participate?
We would greatly appreciate and welcome any and all local business and restaurants to donate a gift certificate, discount service coupon or free service to be used during the raffle.
The more prizes we have, the greater success of the the raffle and our fundraising effort. Any businesses that are willing to donate to this cause will be awarded as a “Friend of Kayak Marco 24” and be verbally mentioned at both events, and be given written recognition in local newspapers, print, and online. Please contact me, Steven, at 239-240-2117 to arrange a donation, gift certificate, suggestion or kind word.
Please look to the next edition of Coastal Breeze for another Q&A session and to learn of the grand party that will take place after Kayak Marco 24![email_link]