Travis Suit is on a mission to change the world. For the past three years, the 34-year-old has organized an epic paddleboard endurance event called Crossing for a Cure. Participants embark on a 75-mile journey across the ocean to bring awareness and raise money for people living with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes a buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas, and other internal organs. The average survival rate of someone living with cystic fibrosis is about 40-years-old.
In 2011, Suit’s daughter Piper was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease. She was just four-years-old at the time. Since her initial diagnosis, Suit has gone above and beyond the call of duty to change the way we look at chronic illness.
“I never want Piper to be insecure about who she is with this disease,” Suit told a Coastal Breeze News reporter in 2017. “I don’t want the disease to define her. I want her to be able to be 100 percent of who she is and confident with that.”
This year, Crossing for a Cure will take place on Father’s Day weekend. Paddlers, including Marco Island Police officer Josh Ferris, will make their way from the Bahamas all the way to Dania Beach, Florida. Each participant is tasked with raising $1,000 for the cause. So far the MIPD officer has raised $35,108.
“My original fundraising goal was $10,000,” Ferris said. “I just wanted to make it realistic.”
To Ferris’ surprise, it only took a little over one month to raise the money. After that he decided to up the ante. He raised his fundraising goal to $20,000, which again was easily met. Now he’s raised his goal to an astounding $40,000.
“I’ve gotten so many donations from people I don’t have any idea who they are,” he said.
In the days leading up to the grueling 75-mile paddleboard excursion, Ferris has been training hard. He says that he takes every opportunity to paddle, even if it’s only for a mile. He’s also been receiving cold laser therapy treatment from his chiropractor to repair and maintain his back strength. Ferris has even commemorated his involvement with Crossing for a Cure in the form of a tattoo.
“Everyone says it’s a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling and I don’t see it as a temporary feeling because of the effort that I put into last year,” he said.
The tattoo, which is located on his left shin, depicts the compass rose, two paddles, and the Piper’s Angels Foundation logo, Suit’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Inside the compass rose are tribal designs, which according to Ferris hold symbolic ties to the ocean. Flowers and two sparrows embellish the center.
“I added in the sparrows because the sparrows are symbolic of leading you home,” he said.
Come June, Ferris and his team of seven (including of MIPD officers Hector Diaz, Clayton Smith, and Robert Marvin) will head to Bimini in the Bahamas to embark on the 75-mile journey. The team will aide Ferris throughout the crossing as a support boat, providing him food and keeping safe from obstacles.
Crossing for a Cure has raised a total of $163,158. All proceeds benefit Piper’s Angels, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If you would like to donate to the cause and help Josh Ferris reach his fundraising goal of $40,000 visit: www.crowdrise.com/CrossingForACure2018