Man kayaks Delaware coast for cancer patients

 (photo courtesy of Jeff Wildonger)

(photo courtesy of Jeff Wildonger)

Three days from now, Jeff Wildonger will launch his kayak from Marcus Hook, PA and paddle all the way down to Delaware’s Fenwick Island for what he’s called, ‘The 2013 Great Delaware Kayak Tour.’

“This is just something I’ve always wanted to do, it’s been on my bucket list if you will,” Wildonger said, who will paddle 113 miles of river, bay and ocean over the course of eight days.

“That’s giving me time to enjoy it, take pictures, observe nature, do some bird-watching… so it’s not a race by any stretch.”

The solo trek along Delaware’s coast will also benefit Justin’s Beach House, a nonprofit that provides cancer patients and their families a place to relax and unwind in Bethany Beach, away from doctors and hospitals.

The organization is named after Delaware native Justin Jennings, who struggled with a malignant brain tumor for two years before dying in 2000. Justin’s family started the foundation in his honor, saying Justin looked to the beach as an escape.

“I went to high school with Justin, [we] played Little League together; so I knew him and I was aware of the situation with the beach house and the charity so I figured that would be great, and it’s local and it helps out families that are dealing with the unthinkable,” Wildonger said.

So far Wildonger has raised $770 through sponsorships and private donations, but is hoping to reach a goal of $1,000 before Friday. 

Kayaking since 2001, this is the first time Wildonger has kayaked continually for this long. He says the community is stepping up, helping him with things like food and lodging.

“For the most part, I’ll be camping along the way; a lot of people have offered their backyards to sleep in, I’m working with Delaware Parks to try to get permission to camp in Fort DuPont.”

Wildonger says he plans to leave Marcus Hook at 8:30 a.m. Friday, paddling upstream for the first two-and-a-half hours of his journey.

“I never said this was going to be easy,” Wildonger wrote on the trip’s Facebook page.

You can follow ‘The 2013 Great Delaware Kayak Tour’ on Facebook. There, Jeff will post information and live updates on his progress. There’s also still time to make a donation.

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