Smooth Paddling for Cameron Benson

The Friendship Paddle Raises $180K+

Santa Rosa Island was the backdrop for Sunday’s send-off of the Friendship Paddle fundraiser for Cameron Benson (center), who’s been battling a rare neuroendocrine cancer since December 2016.

Paul Wellman

Santa Rosa Island was the backdrop for Sunday’s send-off of the Friendship Paddle fundraiser for Cameron Benson (center), who’s been battling a rare neuroendocrine cancer since December 2016.

The Friendship Paddle raised more than $182,000 for Cameron Benson, who has been fighting an aggressive Stage IV neuroendocrine cancer, currently in remission, since Christmas 2016. After spending the night on support boats at Santa Rosa Island’s Bechers Bay, 160 participants from 11 teams shoved off Sunday morning through a small chop.

It soon gave way to smooth seas across the channel to a beach landing in front of Santa Barbara Yacht Club, about 30 nautical miles. Another handful of supporters took a round-trip beach walk between the yacht club and Santa Barbara Lighthouse.

“It was physically and emotionally exhausting and exhilarating at the same time,” said Benson, a husband, father of two, creeks manager for the City of Santa Barbara, and former executive director of the Environmental Defense Center. “The Friendship Paddle is just an incredibly uplifting community of people. I am grateful in the extreme.”