New nonprofit to host paddle race this weekend

Muskegon County

NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) — A newly formed nonprofit on the lakeshore is hosting an event this weekend to raise money for mental health, and you might get a little wet if you go.

The Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club is hosting the Mona Lake Paddle Race on Saturday. 

“It was a bright spot in a very dark year,” said Bekah Johnson, a member of the Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club. 

“It was really a break from the pandemic isolation,” said Ryan Bryker, the president of the group. 

During a time when it was difficult to find something to do, Bryker and Johnson had an idea.

“Paddling is not meant to be scary; it’s a fun community sport, also bring people to Muskegon,” said Bryker.

The two along with others formed the Muskegon Lakeshore Paddle Club, a nonprofit that hosts paddle races for people of all skill levels. The first one takes place this weekend. 

“They’re such a diverse group of ages and backgrounds and boards and watercraft that I personally had never even seen before,” said Johnson.

The group will raise money for the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan with a $20,000 goal. Johnson says this cause for her hits close to home.

“I lost a 14-year-old niece to suicide in 2016,” said Johnson. “I keep her in my heart every day. When you really take a beat and look around, you’re not very far from anyone who suffers from mental health.”

“This year has been hard on a lot of people, so it felt timely and relevant,” said Bryker.

These two hope that this event does something that many have longed for: raise awareness and bring people together.

“We are just extremely excited to bring that group here and try to establish that community in our own backyard,” said Johnson. 

The Mona Lake Paddle Race begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and includes a one-mile, 5K and 10K. You can register before the event online

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