"I went to college, worked a lot in my career, and went to grad school," Steve Shikiya says. Then cancer struck. He was treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma 2007-08.
"After treatment, your perspective changes so much. Life is short, and I'm more goal-oriented now. I live my life month to month."
This year he competed in the Cold Hands Paddle and the Rock 2 Rock Paddleboard and Stand Up Paddle Race, both at Cabrillo Beach in Los Angeles County. On Aug. 28, he will race in the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Marathon, ending at Manhattan Beach. He had never done these three before. Aimee Spector, co-captain of the Ocean of Hope campaign, asked why he wanted to take on the "holy trinity" of paddleboarding.
"Because I can do them right now," he responded. "I don't know about next year."
The long-distance races also attracted him, he says, because they feel "like something most people will never do."
The series of ocean races raises money and awareness for the Sarcoma Alliance. Shikiya raises funds to fight lymphoma, but he also decided to join O2H after talking to Phil Ambrose and other team members. He was impressed that the Alliance was so involved with the paddling community.
"I'm passionate about fighting all kinds of cancer," Shikiya says.
He's new to O2H, but not the ocean."I've surfed probably since I was about 4 years old, and I thought the worst part of surfing was the paddling.
"I've known Joe Bark since I was 5 or 6 years old." Two years ago, the well-known boardmaker offered to lend him a paddleboard, saying, "If you try it, you'll like it." About a month later, he talked to Charlie Hutchens of Joe Bark Paddleboards. "He's such a cool guy, and he spent so much time with me that I thought I had to try it." He did, and "from that moment, I was hooked."
"You can't surf all the time. But paddleboarding is different. You can pretty much do it any day. You can go anywhere you want," even places you can't go by boat. Plus, he adds: "I needed an excuse to do more exercising."
Shikiya has a fundraising page here.
-- Suzie Siegel