POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – Pound Ridge resident Brian Harrington is vice president of development for Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Hospital in Yonkers. That means he helps the hospital raise money to help care for the children who go there.
Recently, Harrington found a way to combine his vocation with his passion for stand-up paddle boarding – a sport he’s been doing for about two years that involves standing up on a surf-board-like device and paddling it like a canoe.
In addition to his work at Elizabeth Seton, Harrington runs the Each One Counts Foundation – an organization that raises money for some 14 pediatric hospitals and care centers across the country to help support their pain management therapies and services and ease the suffering of chronically and terminally ill children. Always looking for a way to raise dollars for Each One Counts, Harrington turned to his paddle board.
“I was trying to think of something that was personally challenging, but could also raise awareness for my foundation,” Harrington said. “I thought of a 5K [race] but there are so many of those your cause can get lost.”
What the 50-year-old Harrington decided to do was navigate his stand-up paddle board around the island of Manhattan – a 30-mile trip. Joining him on the journey would be friends Tim Engel of New Jersey and Chub Whitten of Massachusetts. Via email, Facebook and other social media, friends and colleagues were notified of the fundraising effort and asked to go to visit their website and make a donation. The suggested offering was $30 – a dollar for each mile.
The aquatic sojourn took place on Saturday, July 14, and took the trio from the Peter J. Sharpe Boathouse south on the East River, around the Battery, up the Hudson River and through Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx and back to the Boathouse. It took just over eight hours.
“After four hours into it I began questioning the intelligence of making the journey,” Harrington said. “We came around the Battery and were heading up the Hudson River against winds that were about 10 knots. We couldn’t stand up; we had to get down on our knees.”
Harrington and his friends had two safety boats manned by volunteers keeping an eye on them and the Coast Guard checked in throughout the trip.
As grueling as it was, in the end he said it was worth it.
“We were successful beyond our wildest expectations,” Harrington said of his fundraising effort. “We raised $14,000 thanks to some very generous people. But I won’t do that again. Once is enough.”
But that doesn’t mean the end of Harrington’s stand-up paddle board fundraising endeavors.
“In September I am going to paddle from Montauk to Block Island,” he said. “That’s 18 miles of open ocean. I really enjoy being on the water. There’s the endurance aspect of it. It’s very peaceful, but challenging.”