Stand Up For Great Lakes-an organization started by a group of friends in Traverse City, MI whose goal to raise awareness for the Great Lakes.
The summer of 2014 was when it all began. Kwin Morris, Jeff Guy, Joe Lorenz, J Mueller and Nick Darga were going to attempt to cross Lake Michigan by paddle boards. They had been planning for almost a year now and were ready to make the feat. Unfortunately, their weather window in late August didn’t give them a good window to make the crossing so it was postponed until next summer.
Little did the guys know…but this was a blessing in disguise. The paddlers were able to get a big sponsor through ‘Ford Motor Company’ as well as do more research on what clothing, and safety measure they needed!
June 22, 2015: the five paddlers+ two safety boats+ parametics+ Captain-Ryan Matuzak all traveled to Algmoa, WI where they would be starting their journey the next morning.
June 23, 2015: The paddlers began their journey across Lake Michigan starting in Algoma, WI around 1100. At the beginning of the paddle they had a steady West wind, where they were averaging 4mph travel time! THEY WERE CRUSING…but not for long! Around 1800 the winds changed to coming from the South, and the waves increased in size. These conditions persisted until the guys made landfall the following morning; meaning they paddled on their left side for 16+ hours!
June 24, 2015: After 24 grueling hours of paddling: battling the strong south wind and 2-3ft waves, the paddlers finally made it to the Frankfort, MI beach! There they were greeted by family members, friends, coffee from ‘Espresso Bay‘ and growlers from ‘Storm Cloud Brewery.’
Stand Up For Great Lakes team members had a mission to cross Lake Michigan for two reasons:
- To raise money for protection of the great lakes: A ‘Go Fund-Me’ page was set up to raise money for ‘Alliance For The Great Lakes’ a non-profit organization that works to preserve and protect the great lakes. The team was able to raise $10,000!
- To be able to say they crossed a Great Lakes by paddle board.
I vaguely remember Kwin telling me after the crossing “Yep, I’ll never do that again!” The physical and emotional toll that it took on him was something he didn’t expect at all! He, like most people, thought that it would be a breeze…BOY WAS HE WRONG.
After a couple days of recovery and many interviews with local and state radio shows, news stations, etc. Kwin, Jeff, Joe, J and Nick all saw the impact they made and realized they needed to do more. PADDLE ALL THE GREAT LAKES!