Local Organization, The Keiki Paddle, Continues to Serve Community on Behalf of Children with Life Threatening Illnesses

For the past 13 years, the local non-profit organization, The Keiki Paddle, has brought and continues to bring the community together to provide emotional and financial support to children suffering from life threatening illnesses and other non-profit organizations that support children in the Santa Barbara County. Typically, The Keiki Paddle hosts an annual event each summer that sees participants from the ages of 7 to 18 joining in a paddle board relay event that stretches 10 miles along the Santa Barbara coastline. In previous years, The Keiki Paddle has attracted about 150 participants and hundreds of supporters in unity in order to help those in need in our community. 

The Keiki Paddle event is organized and managed by a group of local Santa Barbara teenagers. Every year, the Keiki Paddle Junior Advisory Board selects an individual and a non-profit beneficiary. This year’s honorees are Chris Sellars – a senior at Santa Barbara High School who is battling Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma – and The Best Day Foundation, a local non-profit that helps children and young adults with special needs build confidence and self-esteem through fun and safe ocean-oriented activities. Under normal circumstances, The Keiki Paddle would host their annual paddle board relay event with 100+ paddlers on 20+ boats; however, due to Covid-19, the Keiki Paddle Junior Advisory Board has had to get creative so our community could support Chris whilst keeping everyone’s safety in mind. But one thing remains clear, that now more than ever, Chris and his Dad need the Keiki Family community support.  

Chris Sellers was a high school junior at Santa Barbara High School, playing Magic Cards with his friends, hanging at the beach, fishing, and working at the Pet House in Goleta. During this time, he was focusing on getting into college and studying Marine Biology/Environmental Science. On December 9th Chris was diagnosed with Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma and on December 11th Chris had a port put in his chest, two bone marrow tests, a spinal tap and immediately began 3 days of light chemotherapy. He came home for a week and then started his first of six full rounds of chemotherapy. For each round of chemo, he was in the hospital for 5 to 6 days every month for 6 months, and unfortunately the first round was during Christmas. This road has been long and a bit rough on both Chris and his Dad, Sean, who has been a full-time touring/studio drummer for over 25 years. Sean is a single father who gained full custody of Chris 6 years ago. Chris finished his last round of chemotherapy on May 24th and both he and his Dad are super excited to get back in the water again, and Chris can’t wait to get back to work at the Pet House and to start fishing again.

The Keiki Paddle is rallying support for Chris in the safest way possible. On June 16th, the Keiki Paddle launched a new and creative campaign to gain support for their honorees this year. This year, the Keiki Paddle is going online for the Keiki Plunge Video Challenge, where participants film themselves jumping (safely) into a body of water – the ocean, lake, river, pool, a bathtub… however creative the participant takes this! – and sending Chris a positive message. The goal is to post these videos to social media with the hashtags #keikiplunge2020 and #pma (positive mental attitude!) for the world to see. And to make things more interesting, the Keiki Paddle will be giving prizes to those with the most creative, funny, and original videos. While the goal of this video challenge is to raise awareness and support for Chris, the Keiki Paddle Junior Advisory Board has launched the Keiki Fundraising Competition to ensure financial support for Chris and The Best Day Foundation. For this fundraising competition, the more you raise, the more you get. The goal is to raise money for Chris through fundraising competitor levels with chances to win gift cards, merchandise, surfboards, SUPs, and more. In order to win prizes, the registered competitor needs to raise money, where all proceeds will go to the Keiki Paddle’s two beneficiaries. Both fundraising competitions will continue until July 18th.

To register and/or donate to this event, visit the Keiki Paddle’s GroupRev page (https://thefriendshippaddle.redpodium.com/keiki-paddle-2020) and visit their website (http://keikipaddle.org) to receive more information. You can also find this organization on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/keikipaddle/ or Instagram @keikipaddle.sb, where you can find information on how to participate in the Keiki Plunge Video Challenge. The Keiki Paddle is a 501(c)(3) organization and 100% of the funds raised goes directly to the beneficiaries.

“I saw in my children a commitment to something bigger than themselves that I haven’t recognized before – I saw them voluntarily step up, put themselves in a challenging situation, willingly give up their comfort zone to be a part of a community,” said Mike Randolph, with 3 daughters who have regularly participated in the Keiki Paddle events, and two of which have served on the Junior Advisory Board. The Keiki Paddle has supported numerous children and local non-profit organizations for the past 13 years it’s been a non-profit organization. Please show your support of these worthy recipients and our children’s efforts by donating to the Keiki Paddle!

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