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(Ventura, CA. July 5). The “SoCal PaddleDown for Cancer Relay” hit the shores of Carpinteria and Ventura County beaches Friday, July 1 before continuing on the next leg of its 250-mile paddle down the California Coast. Lifeguards and junior lifeguards from Ventura State, Ventura County, Port Hueneme and Point Mugu State beaches have been paddling the Official “SoCal PaddleDown” paddleboards into the next lifeguarding jurisdiction, where it will continue its southbound trek. The Boards are now entering L.A. County.
The 2022 “SoCal PaddleDown for Cancer Relay” began its journey June 1st at Gaviota State Beach in Santa Barbara County. The paddle involves more than 25 lifeguard agencies along the coast, with the relay eventually ending at Imperial Beach near the Mexico Border.
Each leg will feature a pair of paddlers each navigating custom designed 12’ prone Deep Ocean Boards paddleboards equipped with SPOT Gen 4 and Trace satellite GPS monitoring devices to track their progress. At least two paddlers are deployed because it is always safer to paddle with a buddy.
The “SoCal PaddleDown” is raising awareness for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s “Block the Blaze” skin cancer education program. The paddle, which is geared to the junior lifeguard programs of Lifeguard and Marine Safety Agencies throughout California, was specifically established to focus attention on early skin cancer prevention and recognition among those spending considerable time outdoors.
“As lifeguards, we spend the majority of our careers in the sun, and we know the dangers of sun exposure,” said Bill Humphreys, President of the California Surf Lifesaving Assn. (CSLSA) “The SoCal PaddleDown” is a great way of raising awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, and the JWCF is providing the next generation of lifeguards the tools and information to prevent and detect skin cancer.”
In California, 1 in 3 residents will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. Nearly all skin cancer is curable if caught early and treated quickly. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with nearly 4 million people diagnosed annually, according to the JWCF.
“Sun damage is cumulative, so the sooner we can provide lifesaving information to our youth, the better,” said Lauren Fraga, Senior Program Director of JWCF. “Each summer, nearly 25,000 Junior Lifeguards learn how to be sun safe through our “Block the Blaze” presentations, after which they are given sunscreen and a hat to immediately implement sun safety. We are grateful to the CSLSA for helping the JWCF promote sun safety.”
The “Block the Blaze” program is the official partner of the CSLSA to provide skin cancer education to Junior Lifeguards throughout California. To support this effort with donations please visit jwcf.org.
The program has educated over 100,000 Junior Lifeguards about sun safety and skin cancer with an emphasis on skin cancer prevention and screening. In addition to early detection and how to recognize the first signs of skin cancer, the program teaches the JGs how to protect themselves from harmful sun exposure.
The Junior Lifeguard Program is an ocean and beach safety program for youths ages 9-17. Participants receive education and experience in ocean safety, first aid, rescue techniques, body and board surfing, physical fitness and Marine Safety operations.