Byline: Ambrosia Brody
LAGUNA NIGUEL — Will Schmidt successfully completed a 45.2-mile standup paddleboard voyage from Avalon Harbor to Dana Point April 6, raising money to help those living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Schmidt’s trek — called “Standup Paddle Against Depression: A Personal Journey” — raised $3,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), an organization that raises awareness and provides assistance to those wounded during their time in the military. He completed the paddle in 10 hours and 15 minutes.
“It is still surreal to me that I completed this journey,” he said. “The buildup and the aftermath of the event have almost made the actual paddle seem like the easy part. It is a labor of love — and I am really excited for all of the support and promotion that I have received for the WWP.”
On the morning of April 6, Schmidt took to the water on his paddleboard, with his support team following nearby. A 23-foot Chaparral powerboat furnished by a former Air Force captain stood a few 100 yards away, to provide him with water and food when needed.
He successfully navigated the shipping lanes and 4-6 foot swells on the way from Avalon to Dana Point.
Schmidt took up standup paddleboarding upon returning to Orange County, after serving in the Marine Corps in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He found the activity to be therapeutic and helped ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Paddling, Schmidt said, helped him overcome post-traumatic stress disorder by providing feelings of freedom and relief from stress.
The Laguna Niguel resident trained for six months leading up to the journey, paddling from Newport Harbor to Dana Point and Doheney Beach. He also weight trained.
Although the paddle adventure was arduous at times, Schmidt said he is already thinking about his next challenge.
“I would like to do a recurring quarterly event involving military members and their families,” he said. “ I tentatively have my eyes on the 32-mile Molokai-to-Oahu Challenge later this year. The 26-mile NYC SEA Paddle is also on the wish list.”
For more information, or to donate to the cause, visit gogetfunding.com/project/stand-up-paddle-against-depression-a-personal-journey. Fundraising has been extended to May 1.