Paddle to Big Island and Back for charities Aug. 12

(Photo courtesy of Tonka Paparazzi)
Hundreds participated in last year’s third annual Big Island and Back 10K paddle event at the Excelsior Commons Beach. The event benefits the ICA Food Shelf and the Freshwater Society.

By Paige Kieffer
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Tune up the canoe, kayak or paddleboard and head on over to the fourth annual Big Island and Back 10K paddle event, which benefits the ICA Food Shelf and the Freshwater Society, and will be 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Excelsior Commons Beach.

Rick and Jeanne Carter founded the Big Island and Back racing series in 2012.

The paddling event runs summer in correlation with the Big Island and Back Nordic Ski Race in the winter.

The Carters started the Big Island and Back Nordic Ski Race after becoming concerned about the number of visitors coming to Excelsior during the winter season, while they were living in and operating the Bird House Inn on Water Street.

“Regionally, the idea started as to bring more people to downtown Excelsior, but it quickly became about a fundraiser for the ICA Food Shelf and the Freshwater Society and it turned into a fun family event,” said Rick Carter. “The Excelsior Brewing Co. has gotten behind it and everyone always has such a fun time while helping some great charities.”

The first skiing event was, unofficially, in 2012 with a few friends. The next summer the Carters added the paddle event. They are avid skiers and paddlers, and they wanted to share their passion with other enthusiasts while assisting local charities.

Since both events started, they’ve added hundreds of participants and raises nearly $10,000 annually for the Freshwater Society and the ICA Food Shelf.

The Freshwater Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving, restoring, and protecting freshwater resources and their surrounding watersheds. For more information, visit freshwater.org.

The ICA Food Shelf assists families in the communities of Hopkins, Minnetonka, Excelsior, Deephaven, Shorewood, Woodland and Greenwood by providing food services, employment assistance, emergency assistance and much more additional recourse. For more information, visit icafoodshelf.org.

“It’s pretty amazing seeing how the Big Island and Back event has progressed,” Carter said. “The winter event has been hindered by weather in the past few years, but the summer event always has had perfect weather and we’re hoping for that again. It keeps getting bigger every year with a few hundred last year and we’re expecting more this year and we’re hoping it continues to grow in size and popularity.”

The event has a mass start at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Excelsior Commons beach at First Street and West Lake Street.

There is an after-party at 11 a.m., at the Excelsior Brewing Co., 421 Third St., Excelsior. There will refreshments from Joey Nova’s, music and, of course, beer. Awards and door prizes start around noon.

For more information, visit bigislandandback.com.

Follow Paige Kieffer on Facebook at facebook.com/mnsunsailor