There was a lot of spirit-lifting and fundraising in the waters off of the Santa Barbara coast on Saturday, September 24, as nearly 120 paddlers joined forces to brave more than 30 miles of sea from the Gaviota Coast to Miramar Beach as part of the 14th annual Friendship Paddle. The endurance challenge and camaraderie-building charity event benefits an ocean-loving Santa Barbaran fighting a life-threatening disease. This year, that was The Santa Barbara Independent’s own editor-at-large, Ethan Stewart, who’s been fighting — and winning — the battle against neuroendocrine cancer for three years. As of press time, the paddle, which culminated in a hugs-soaked and paella-packed party of more than 300 people on Miramar Beach, had raised nearly $130,000 for Stewart, and donations are still being accepted. See friendshippaddle.org.