Kiteboarders ready to sail

Kiting for Cancer organizer Amy Strzalko in action. - Photos: Christian Black

After months of preparation – and raising $130,000 for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society – the Kiting for Cancer team is ready to make their 100-mile journey on kiteboards from Little Cayman to Grand Cayman.

The team of 10 has been waiting all month for the ideal weather conditions, and Sunday appears to be the perfect day of wind to travel for hours across the open ocean on their kiteboards.

It is a feat that has never been attempted, but team organizer Amy Strzalko is undaunted.

“We have an incredible team of support crew and kiters, so between us we will pull this off,” Ms. Strzalko said.

She brought the same can-do attitude to the fundraising aspect of the event.

When Ms. Strzalko told the Cayman Islands Cancer Society she hoped to raise $100,000 for the organization, Cancer Society operations manager Jennifer Weber urged her to set a lower target, around $25,000.

A promising weather report buoys the kiteboarders for this weekend's event.
A promising weather report buoys the kiteboarders for this weekend’s event.

There had been so many fundraisers for the Cancer Society already last year, Ms. Weber thought it might be difficult to convince the community to keep giving.

“I kind of feel like at some point this community is going to go, ‘OK, Cancer Society, stop coming around with your palm out all the time,’” Ms. Weber said. “I felt like the last thing I want is for anyone to be disappointed when they’re trying to do something so nice to help us and help people in this community.”

But the team hit the $25,000 goal. Then they had raised $50,000. By early February, with the help of several corporate and individuals sponsors, the team had raised $100,000.

And the donations keep coming.

To date, the team has raised $130,000. It is the biggest fundraiser ever for the Cancer Society.

“I would also like to thank everyone who has donated and a big thanks to our sponsors for helping us exceed our initial financial goal,” Ms. Strzalko said.

Ms. Weber said the money “will make a huge difference for us.” The Cancer Society is currently providing financial aid to 140 patients.

The team of kiteboarders will set off at first light on Sunday. They anticipates that the trip will take between six and eight hours.

Hand-painted kiteboards, such as this one by artist Al Ebanks, will be auctioned at the Kiting for Cancer wrap-up party.
Hand-painted kiteboards, such as this one by artist Al Ebanks, will be auctioned at the Kiting for Cancer wrap-up party.

“We still have more safety drills to go over on Friday and Saturday in Little [Cayman] just to ensure the whole entire team is ready to go,” Ms. Strzalko said.

If all goes as planned, they will come through the Rum Point cut, where they will land their kites, before sailing into Morgan’s at Cayman Islands Yacht Club for a welcome party.

“We will have everything set up there from 1 p.m. so we would love a nice crowd of friendly faces to cheer us in,” Ms. Strzalko said. “We are all incredibly excited, nervous and totally ready to do this, so wish us all luck and see you back in Grand [Cayman] on Sunday.”

Next week there will be a wrap-up party and live auction at Morgan’s restaurant, scheduled for Feb. 25, starting at 7 p.m. with drinks and canapes. The auction will start at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $50 and can be ordered from Epic Day Entertainment. All proceeds from ticket sales and auctioned items will go to the Cancer Society.