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Founded by Noodles in 2009
May 2, 2015 + 6th Annual Stand Up Paddle
Matt Berman started the Collier County Special Olympics Stand-Up Paddle Luau Races in 2009. The cause hits close to home for Berman, the owner of Noodles Italian Café and Sushi Bar at Mission Plaza in Naples. “As a parent of a Special Olympic athlete, this is a cause close to my heart,” says Berman. “I am honored and privileged to be working with the Special Olympics families and participants, and look forward to this event all year long. It is the most wonderful day to see these athletes out on the water smiling ear to ear. Over the years I have had the privilege to watch the evolution of each of these Special Olympic athletes. Some of them were once too scared to even step foot on the board, and now they’re competing. It’s truly something to see!”
The event is held at Bayfront Marina in Downtown Naples. The event, nationally recognized by the Special Olympics organization, has a large number of local businesses contribute via sponsorship packages and silent raffle donations, with
all proceeds benefiting the Special Olympics Florida - Collier County. Previous years events drew more than 100 paddlers each, and raised more than $30,000 for Special Olympics Florida - Collier County. Event organizers are aiming to surpass both numbers this year.
“Kuy Hoe He’e Nalu is the Hawaiian translation to stand, to paddle, to surf a wave,” Berman explains. “SUP is an alternative to surfing that’s fun, versatile and an excellent cross-training exercise that can be done on any waterway,” says Berman. “It can be a peaceful paddle on flat water or it can be an intense workout if you paddle hard,” he adds.
In honor of stand up paddle boarding’s Hawaiian roots, the event has a luau theme, with grass skirts, straw hats, leis and Polynesian barbecue. Boards are provided for race competitors and prizes are awarded to all division levels.
STAY IN TOUCH
Stay tuned for information on
the 7th Annual SUP Luau Races