Paddling for Cancer

kayakThe Journey has just Begun: 

By Dagmar Reinhard

Charlie Howden is originally from Great Britain and lives with his fiancée in Florida. Since 2007, after visiting his good friend José several times in Costa Rica, he realized his goal was very clear: to paddle in expedition style along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to raise money for the WGFRF cancer foundation (William Guy Forbeck Research Foundation), honoring his dear friend who died with this disease.

In 2010, he was introduced to stand up paddling and fell in love with the sport. Exploring nature and at the same time pushing his own boundaries, was a huge driving force to excel at the sport. In 2013, Charlie was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. His diagnosis only enhanced his decision to paddle and raise money for cancer research.

In May 2013, he won the Key West Paddle Board Classic. In December and throughout 2014, he received chemotherapy and radiation treatments. During that time, paddling kept his mind positive while achieving fitness. His recent scans came back negative but there is a long road ahead.
Charlie paddling for cancer (2)

      On May 18th of this year, he was back in Costa Rica. He started his paddling expedition from Bahía de Salinas near the Nicaraguan border going south to Cabo Blanco and Playa Naranjo. Since the weather conditions made it impossible to keep paddling, and his muscles and body did not want to cooperate, he got on a ferry to Puntarenas. Even though the next day his body was in better shape, the trip to Jaco was difficult due to the turbulent sea.

      A welcome distraction from the paddling routine was the arrival of his fiancée Dalya, who joined Charlie and Jose for the remainder of the trip. From Manuel Antonio, Charlie headed south to Dominical battling with cross swells. When trying to get to the beach, he was thrown several times from his board.

      Ballena Tales had breakfast with Charlie, Dalya, and their friend José from Heredia at the Luz de Luna Hotel in Uvita where they had spent the night.

“Uvita is amazing, quite an astonishing place,” Charlie said.“I am very lucky to be here with my best friend and my fiancée. I wasn´t sure how my body was going to respond; my shoulders are a little sore but a couple more days won’t be a problem.” 

      They are going to drive from Uvita to Sierpe avoiding the treacherous Diquis Delta; then, they will cross the river by ferry and drive down to Rincón, where they will paddle all the way to Cabo Matapalo.

“In the meantime,” Charlie says, “donations to WGFRF continue being very generous, and I am proud of giving my best. I hope to inspire and give hope to those who are being challenged by the illness, and to their friends, and families. To me, this is the beginning of a bright journey.”

Charlie paddling for cancer (1)

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