Warrior Community Connect holds Paddle Second Chance race

September 16, 2021

A line of surf skiers waited eagerly at the starting line on the Indian River Bay Sept. 11 at Holt’s Landing State Park.

Walt Ellenberger, president and founder of Warrior Community Connect, counted down from five, using a megaphone on the fishing pier above the starting line.

Silhouetted by the Indian River Inlet bridge, the surf skiers began to paddle their way through the water, pacing themselves for the 10-mile race ahead. Behind them, kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders were next to start for the 5-mile race. The event also had a 2.5-mile category, and a 1-mile sprint category, exclusive to stand-up paddleboarders.

The day began with a breakfast and opening remarks by leaders in the Warrior Community Connect organization. After the race, there was a community picnic, live music from local band Hot Sauce and finally, the award ceremony.

The event helped raise funds for Warrior Community Connect, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support for Delaware’s wounded, ill or injured veterans as well as their caregivers.

The yearly event also has a Warrior Paddle Development program which trains veterans and their caregivers to participate, train for or take part in the Paddle Second Chance event.

The event drew racers from all over, including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and even Florida. Jessica Morgan, who took part in the 2.5-mile kayak race, comes to the event every year. She has been an avid paddler for 11 years, and trains four nights a week and on weekends.

“I can’t say it’s all training; some of it is just fun,” she said. “This is a great event. They organize it well. I come out to support it because it’s a good cause and good energy.”

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