The Castaways Against Cancer, a Relay for Life team ranked No. 1in Florida, launched their 17th annual kayaking journey dubbed the “Proof of Life” tour from Virginia Key on Saturday, June 11.
Paddling the equivalent of a marathon a day, the Castaways paddled a total of 160 miles to raise funds in support of the American Cancer Society (ASC). They made landfall at Higgs Beach in Key West on Friday, June 17.
Steve O’Brien, a Christopher Columbus High alumnus and teacher, founded Castaways Against Cancer in 1999, having lost several family members to cancer and himself a cancer survivor. Because the American Cancer Society invests such a significant amount of money into funding cutting-edge research that could eventually lead to a cure, O’Brien decided to raise money for the organization.
When O’Brien was introduced to fellow Columbus alumnus Lou de la Aguilera, president and CEO of U.S. Century Bank, a deep friendship was formed. This led to de la Aguilera joining the Castaways as a member of their kayaking team. This year was de la Aguilera’s fifth year with the Castaways.
“Every day of the journey we focus on why we are battling so hard on the water, to see cancer eradicated once and for all. Until then, we will keep on fighting — by paddling,” de la Aguilera said.
De la Aguilera and Team U.S. Century pledged their support to the Castaways by assisting in fundraising efforts. This year the Castaways Against Cancer have successfully raised more than $77,500.
Several of the kayakers on the “Proof of Life” journey wore GoPro cameras to help record the voyage for an upcoming documentary. Omar Delgado, a teacher at Columbus, is leading the documentary project with the help of six of his students. The school’s program, CCNN Live, is the No. 1 ranked high school broadcast journalism program in the U.S.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this powerful story that impacts so many people today,” Delgado said. “Once it has been edited, we plan on submitting it to the American High School Film Festival.”
To donate in support of the Castaways Against Cancer visit the website at www.castawaysagainstcancer.com.