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Kayakers travel from Baltimore to Ocean City

The Scunny Memorial Paddle paddled more than 150 miles from Baltimore in Ocean City in memory of their friend Patrick “Scunny” McCusker and raised almost $50,000 for Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation. (Photo courtesy of Believe In Tomorrow)

(Sept. 20, 2013) Six kayakers, an empty kayak in tow, landed at Macky’s Bayside in Ocean City last Saturday, marking the end of a 175-mile paddle to memorialize a friend.

The members of the Scunny Memorial Paddle made the trek from Baltimore to Ocean City in memory of Patrick “Scunny” McCusker, raising nearly $50,000 for Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, one of his favorite charities, along the way.

“It was an awesome, awesome feeling of accomplishment,” friend of McCusker and paddler “Delaware” Dave Powell said, and “it was a little sad.”

McCusker died in a bike accident in Ocean City last summer, Believe In Tomorrow Special Events Associate Kate Sachs said. An owner of two Baltimore bars, he brought the six bartenders together in his passing.

Powell, Jason Mislan, Jeff Mason, Beth Roche, Joe Wandishin and Stephen Twilley followed the route McCusker first paddled in 2006 during his inaugural kayak trip for Believe In Tomorrow.

The Baltimore bartending team trained for weeks leading up to the trip, putting in dozens of hours on the water.

They also spent many hours raising money for Believe In Tomorrow, a national nonprofit that provides housing for critically ill children and their families and a charity McCusker strongly supported.

“He was a very charitable guy,” Sachs said. “He was probably one of our biggest supporters.”

Through happy hours, guest bartending events and online fundraising, the team raised around $40,000 before leaving and almost $7,000 more during their five-day trip.

The kayakers launched from near the Korean War Memorial in the Canton Water Park around 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, paddling 30 or more miles a day and camping along the way. A boat followed them carrying food, water and supplies.

“It was monumental — a long, long way,” Powell said.

“The first day was beautiful. The bay was flat as a pond,” he said. “The next two days, the wind was against us.”

From kayaking in 20-knot winds to being pummeled by a thunderstorm in their tents in a Delaware boat ramp parking lot, the team faced challenges on their paddle.

“Pulling into Macky’s was fantastic. We had a great crowd there,” Powell said.

The group landed at the 54th Street restaurant Saturday afternoon to a crowd of about 50 family and friends. Each had a Natty Boh in their kayak in honor of McCusker, and Powell and Mislan towed an empty seventh kayak bearing the Believe in Tomorrow logo in memory of their friend.

Once they landed on the beach, the team passed the Natty Bohs and CEO and Founder of Believe In Tomorrow Brian Morrison said a few words to thank the paddlers and commemorate McCusker, followed by a toast.

“It was very emotional. Several tears were shed by paddlers and family and friends,” Sachs said.

In all, the team raised around $47,000 and is still expecting a few more donations to bump them closer to their fundraising goal.

“We’re still hoping to get to that magical $50,000,” Powell said.

When asked if he’d make a long-distance, fundraiser-paddle trip again, he was sure: “It’s definitely going to happen again.”

Visit www.believeintomorrow.org/ scunnypaddle for more information and to donate to any of the Scunny Memorial Paddle team members.

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