PINE KNOLL SHORES, N.C. -- Local active duty, retired and prior service military members joined together to celebrate and honor wounded warriors during the 7th Annual Kayak for the Warriors competition at Pine Knoll Shores June 7.
The event aims to unite the community to raise awareness for wounded service members, veterans and military families, said Anne Barnwell, the senior director of communications for Hope for the Warriors.
Hope for the Warriors is a national nonprofit organization that assists combat wounded service members, their families and families of the fallen, according to Barnwell.
“Hope for the Warriors is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, the family unit and hope for our service members and our military families,” said Barnwell.
This year’s Warrior Winner was James Castellow, a Pine Knoll Shores resident who raced in memory of Bruce Carby, a veteran, Castellow’s father-in-law and last year’s Warrior Winner. Castellow’s raw time for the race was 1:06:29.
The Kayak for the Warriors race consisted of a kayak and paddle board race that started and ended at Garner Park in Pine Knoll Shores. The route covered 3.2 miles of the town’s scenic canal and Bogue sound. Kayak for the Warriors also hosted 5K and 10K bicycle rides for participants.
“We had more than 300 people here this year,” said event coordinator Bud Pitzer. “We only had eight kayakers when we first started the event, and this year we had more than 140 kayakers who participated in the race.”
Each year as more kayakers come together to support the cause, they join a family that prides itself in caring for those who defend America.
“What better way for a husband and wife to teach their children about country, family and community values,” said Pitzer. “An event like this is wholesome, athletic and family oriented and it keeps families coming back.”
After competing in six Kayak for the Warrior competitions, Pine Knoll Shores Mayor Ken Jones didn’t plan to let anything stop him from participating and coming to support the race.
“I love coming down and seeing all the different faces and even some of the same faces participating in the event,” said Jones, “I’m going to participate in next year’s race and I look forward to seeing everyone again.”
Jones said the event brings the entire town together for a single cause and that it makes him proud when he see community members come out and support a cause that helps wounded warriors past and present.
“This event helps people who really need it,” said Jones.