Chad DeSatnick was back on a board a few weekends ago; The Cape May native was among the 80-plus participants in the ninth DeSatnick Foundation Around the Cape Paddle, a 15-mile trip around the island that starts and finishes at the Fisherman's Memorial at the base of the Cape May Harbor.

"Let's just say I entered the race," DeSatnick said with a laugh. "I wouldn't call what I did racing.  I just got into the event and did my own thing. I finished without getting pulled out and I was pretty happy with that."

DeSatnick was being modest because the 46-year-old placed 11th out of 21 in the 14-foot SUP Division, completing the course in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 1 second, well inside the four-hour cutoff.

Just being on a board again should be considered a victory. - Twenty-two years ago, on September 30, 2001, he was injured while surfing at Cape May's Poverty Beach during Hurricane Humberto. DeSatnick shattered the C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck and underwent an 11-hour operation at Atlantic City Medical Center.

Soon after, he created the DeSatnick Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those with spinal cord injuries.  Last Sunday was the first time he had competed in its signature event.

"I had been involved with this race for eight years, so I was happy to finally get the chance to be in it," he said. "It allowed me to get a different perspective for the event and even more respect for the people who have been doing this for years."

One of the veterans in the race was his older brother, Todd, who is recognized as one of the best SUP racers on the East Coast along with locals such as Ocean City's Jason Chew and Brigantine's Sven Peltonen.

Todd, 50 years old, placed fifth overall and won the Masters division in the 14-foot SUP category.

"The conditions were really good for the event," Todd said. "The only challenge was in the canal. The last four miles were against the wind and the tide and it was also super hot. It was nice to do well, but more importantly, it was another successful event for the foundation. It's a collaboration among lots of supporters, volunteers, sponsors and competitors."

In addition to the SUP category, the event also featured Asay and Van Duyne boats, C1X Coastal Rowers, OC1 and OC2 divisions, Surf Skis and three divisions of prone paddleboard.

Former Wildwood lifeguard Sean Brennan is the perfect example of someone who puts his ego aside for the good of a greater cause.  Brennan was the first to complete the race, using a surf ski to place first overall in 1:58.39.  As such, he was due to receive a trophy.

"He told me, 'Do not spend one dime on a plaque for me,'" Chad said. "'Give that money to someone who really needs it.'"

That community spirit was also prevalent in an event earlier last month: On June 10, the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation held its annual Paddle for a Cause.  It's a 22.5-mile race around Absecon Island to support those fighting cancer.  That group includes Randazzo, a former elite surfer who has been battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

That event started in 2008 when Mike May talked six of his surfing buddies into making the trek in support of Randazzo, who is a member of the New Jersey and East Coast Halls of Fame.  Todd DeSatnick was one of the original seven, along with May, former Atlantic City resident Tom Forkin, Linwood's Chris Maher, New York's Gavin O'Donnell, Ventnor's Mike Tkacz and Atlantic City's Frankie Walsh, who was just inducted into the N.J. Surfing Hall.

DeSatnick, Forkin, and O'Donnell were back in the race this year, but decided to paddle as a group instead of competing.  The gesture was in support of Randazzo, who is battling health issues again.

"We all love to race, but we pushed our egos aside in a show of camaraderie for the people who are fighting much tougher battles than what we are facing," Todd said. "That's why Mike started it years ago and that's what we wanted to do again this year."

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