STRATHAM, New Hampshire – This unique fundraiser to support youth mentoring is not for the faint of heart. In its seventh year, area stand up paddlers are preparing to make a round trip, 14+ mile paddle from the New Hampshire coast to the Isles of Shoals on Saturday, August 3. Organized by the Seacoast Paddleboard Club, participating paddlers have logged 6,771 training miles over the course of the event’s history and raised nearly $90,000 to support the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire (BBBSNH), which is to put caring adult mentors into the lives of children facing adversity. Each match costs more than $1,200 per year to support, and the agency serves more than 750 Granite State children each year.
The IOS Invitational has become a staple in the Northern New England paddle board scene. This year, at least 15 paddlers will participate, with a goal of raising $30,000 through sponsorships and crowdfunding. The paddlers train individually for months, as well as together at weekly gatherings.
BBBSNH Big Brother Chris Carragher, who along with his wife Diane, was honored as New Hampshire’s 2019 Big Couple of the Year, launched the annual paddle in 2013. Chris turned his personal goal of paddling to the Isles of Shoals into an example of goal-setting for his Little Brother, Caden, and an opportunity to raise awareness and money to the support youth mentoring. His annual trek morphed into a team fundraising event hosted by the Seacoast Paddleboard Club. Check out a video about Chris, Diane and Caden’s match and the fundraiser below.
“When I first set out to complete a solo expedition to the shoals in 2013, I had no idea that this paddle would spark such an interest in so many paddlers, or be responsible for raising so much support for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program,” Carragher said. The event has previously been featured by WMUR’s New Hampshire Chronicle.
BBBSNH CEO Stacy Kramer credits Carragher with the ongoing success and growth of the annual event.
“One person can have an incredible impact on a child, and Chris’ dedication to his Little Brother is proof of that, but he’s also shown how one person can positively affect children throughout the state,” Kramer said. “For all the children BBBSNH serves, more than 280 are waiting for mentors in our program. Many of those waiting have a parent in jail or prison, experience firsthand the impact of the state’s opioid crisis, or face other adversities. The need has never been greater for caring role models.”
Photo Courtesy: BBBSNH
To donate to the IOS Invitational, please visit www.iosinvitational.com. To learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister or in enrolling your child in the program, visit bbbsnh.org, call 1-844-NH4-BIGS or email.