ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey – Last Saturday local surf legend and cancer survivor Dean Randazzo joined paddlers from around the world in a 22.5-mile race around Absecon Island.
The 12th annual Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation Paddle For A Cause presented by Seashore Construction brought competitors and spectators to the Frank S. Farley State Marina at Golden Nugget Atlantic City for 22.5-mile and 8-mile races, and a 4-mile social paddle in kayaks, paddleboards, outrigger canoes and surfskis on Saturday, June 8.
Randazzo of Ventnor was recovering from a bout with Hodgkins Lymphoma when the inaugural event was conceived. The course was designed by Mike May in 2011 to challenge racers as a reminder that they are helping people struggling with cancer. Randazzo said that’s exactly what kept him motivated in the water.
“It was really tough out there,” said Randazzo, “I just kept telling myself that I couldn’t quit, because if I quit then it’s OK for people with cancer to quit I couldn’t let them down.”
Randazzo completed the 22.5-mile stand-up paddle board race in 8:06:51.81. Up until now a series of health issues had kept him off of the signature long distance course for the past 11 years and he accomplished a major goal by completing the race. “It was truly inspiring,” said foundation President Mark Zappone who extended the time limitation on the race to allow Randazzo to finish, “that guy just has no quit in him.”
In the men’s divisions, Sean Brennan of Robbinsville Township, New Jersey finished the 22.5-mile race first and won the surfski category with a time of 2:49:37.61. Kevin Kahikina of Point Pleasant, New Jersey won the OC-1 division with a time of 4:04:57.64. Fielding Pagel of Annapolis, Maryland finished won the stand-up paddleboard category with a time of 4:04:35.94 and Ryan Matthews of Ocean Township, New Jersey won the prone category with a finishing time of 4:06:40.94. Andy Giordano of Ocean View, New Jersey won the master’s 14-foot stand-up category with a time of 5:22:56.05 and 14-year-old Hugh Shields won the prone 17-year-old and younger category with a time of 5:20:37.69
In the women’s stand-up paddle board division Stephanie Shideler of Long Beach, New York won first place and was the fifteenth overall finisher with a time of 4:23:18.95. Lisa Hertz Malick of Melbourne Beach, Florida won the prone category with a time of 5:10:50.32. Jennifer Panetta of Berwyn, Pennsylvania won the 12-foot, 6-inch stand-up paddleboard category with a time of 6:03:36.08. Grace Emig of Brigantine won the 12-foot, 6-inch prone category with a time of 5:40:48.33. Josette Lata of Pine Beach, New Jersey won the master’s 14-foot stand-up category with a time of 5:56:07.54 and 14-year-old Emma Engle won the stand-up paddleboard 14-foot, 17-years-old and younger category with a time of 5:52:39.42.
Cash prizes of $800 for first place, $350 for second place and $150 for third place were awarded for the 22.5-mile race around Absecon Island in the following categories: men’s open prone, men’s 14-foot and longer stand up paddleboard, women’s open prone and women’s 14-foot and longer stand up paddleboard. The top three overall finishers in two new categories this year, the Surf Ski and OC-1, were awarded $250 for first place, $150 for second place and $100 for third place.
With funds still being counted, the 12th annual Paddle For A Cause raised more than $70,000 for the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation to help fight cancer in our area.
Top fundraiser honors went to local artist Jon Baker of Egg Harbor Township for the third year in a row. Baker raised a total of $9,290 and received the Karen Grant award which is named for a board member, volunteer and grant recipient who passed away from cancer last April. Todd Desatnick was the second place fundraiser with $5,200 raised, followed by Paul Giunta who raised $1,975.
This year’s event was held in honor of Gregory Weber and a new annual Greg Weber Industry Award was presented to new board member David Kolb for outstanding service to the organization.
The Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation will hold its 6th annual Art For A Cause Tuesday, July 16 at Heritage Surf and Sport in Margate. See TheDRCF.org for more information or to make a donation.