Paddling & Partying For A Breast Cancer Cure

BCRF Paddle Finish Line.
BCRF Gabrielle Reece, Maria Baum, Jimmy Buffett and Larry Baum.

A vacation is intended as an escape from our everyday lives, a chance to recharge the batteries and allow our minds to rest. Whether it be hours, days, or weeks, returning home from a getaway is accompanied by a sense of peace, but not always.

Breast Cancer Research Foundation board member Maria Baum returned home from a family trip to Italy last week. Upon arriving back to her Sag Harbor residence, she was greeted with the devastating news that her neighbor lost her battle with breast cancer. Though heartbroken, it was a reminder of why Baum continues to hold the annual Hamptons Paddle & Party For Pink.

The BCRF charity race and party at Havens Beach will benefit research.

The two-part event will begin on Saturday, August 4, at 8 AM on Havens Beach in Sag Harbor, and will benefit the BCRF. The paddle was initiated in 2012 by Baum, her husband, Larry, alongside Lisa and Richard Perry, after Baum was introduced to the sport of paddle boarding through Richard. “It really is what got me through chemo. At the time, I didn’t work out much. I was always in my office at the computer,” explained Baum, a former trader on Wall Street and investor and a creator behind Tutto Il Giorno and Dopo La Spiaggia.

“I started at my own slow pace and built up. What I didn’t realize was the emotional and mental connection it gave me to nature and the universe. Being out there on the water in the morning in Sag Harbor, when no one is even up but you, and the sun is rising, is just incredible,” Baum detailed.

Eight years ago, when she was first diagnosed, she wanted to shield her young children from the pain of her diagnosis. In their eyes, her paddle boarding was just mom being active. “It was my time to get out there and just make my peace with everything, the emotional crying and screaming out. Then, to come back peaceful and feeling that I could handle it,” she said.

Paddle boarding became Baum’s therapy, a sanctuary amid life-altering circumstances. It saved her, and in turn, she wanted others to feel that same sense of harmonious control.

On average, every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. The World Paddle Association sanctioned points race is held to honor all those who lost their battle with the disease, as well as those who are still fighting or are breast cancer survivors.

The paddle board race, for all skill levels, begins at 8 AM, with three-mile or six-mile course options. New for 2018 is the Kids Race Division, run by Paddle Diva and its team, which is a quarter-mile. Also new this year is the Virtual Paddler, a fundraising page. Race support is by East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue.

The number of participants has grown, with 85 paddlers in 2012 and 200 by 2016. The Party for Pink, which begins at 7 PM, has grown in that same time from 430 guests to 700. In all, the event has raised close to $10 million, with $1.8 million in 2017 alone. Past years’ notable supporters included Jimmy Buffet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ryan Seacrest, and DJ Questlove.

Event co-chairs are Maria and Larry Baum, Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn and Gary Cohn, and Jackie and Bippy Siegal. The registration fee for the race is $175. The race is directed by Main Beach Surf and Sport.

BCRF was founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1993. As “the largest private funder of breast cancer research worldwide,” this year, the foundation has awarded $59.5 million to support the work of more than 275 scientists across 15 countries.

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