Paddle 4 Troops holds 12th annual race

One local organization is working to support all veterans and their families during times of need.
Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SURF CITY, N.C. (WECT) - One local organization is working to support all veterans and their families during times of need.

On Saturday afternoon, Paddle 4 Troops held its 12th annual standing paddle board race at the Sears Landing Grill and Boat Docks in Surf City.

Paddle 4 Troops is a local non-profit that raises money for veterans and their families. Fallen veterans were honored and participants got the chance to enjoy the water.

“It’s very touching that they wanted to honor him like this. And he was very proud of being a Marine and proud of the work that he did. And we were proud of him,” said Cathy Safford.

Cathy is the mom of Robert Safford, a marine who passed away earlier this year. She said Paddle 4 Troops paid for her son’s funeral, which hosted over 200 people.

The Safford family is just one of the many families that Paddle 4 Troops have given support to over the years.

“If they identified that they need help in an area, sometimes housing for those that are under or unemployed, we’ve helped them through those difficult times,” said Dwight Torres, co- founder of Paddle 4 Troops.

For over a decade, Torres, his wife and a team of volunteers have raised money for military families. Torres and other community members have worked to put on events that raise money for veterans in need.

“Our mission is to convert challenges into opportunities, one veteran at a time. So we do that by identifying those that are in need, whether it be a veteran, active duty member, or retiree, their family, their kids that need assistance,” said Torres.

Torres said the idea of Paddle 4 Troops came about because of his son.

“I’m very proud of him. He had a heart condition, he couldn’t serve himself. And this was a way where he thought that he would be able to succumb that and give service to to our country by helping veterans that are in need,” said Torres.

Paddle 4 Troops also helps support other local organizations like the Sgt. Eugene Ashely Memorial Center. The center provides transitional housing for any veteran who may be in need.

“The fact is that there’s more homeless veterans than you know. A lot of them won’t even say that they’re a veteran because would you really want to when you’re going into a shelter? To say ‘Hey, I was also a veteran,’” said Brian Mansfield with the Sgt. Eugene Ashely Memorial Center.

Paddle 4 Troops has given thousands to the memorial center over the years. The non-profit wants to help shine a light on the people who sometimes go unnoticed.

In the end, Mason Kober walked away as the winner of the 5k standing paddle board race.

“It feels good. I just like doing it and yeah, it feels good to win,” said Kober.

Over $100,000 has been raised in the past two years. All of that money goes towards the organization’s mission to help veterans and people like the Safford family.

I’m happy about that. I’m very touched, especially for the sake of his little daughter who’s left behind,” said Cathy Safford.

More information on Paddle 4 Troops can be found here.