Happy animal story of the week: Paddleboard surfer Jodie Nelson got a helping hand (or should I say flipper?) from the animal kingdom last Sunday, March 28 when she set out on a 40-mile trek to raise cancer awareness off the coast of California.
The 34-year-old Southern California woman paddled from Santa Catalina Island to Dana Point, a journey that took nine hours. During the grueling feat, a 30-foot minke whale showed up to give his support. The two traveled side-by-side for two hours, during which time Nelson dubbed the whale “Larry”. According to GrindTV, Larry “rolled around repeatedly alongside her and blew bubbles beneath her board.”
Inspired by her best friend who is currently battling breast cancer, as well as her mother and aunt who both survived cancer, Nelson decided to take on a 40-mile paddling challenge to raise money and to inspire others. She told GrindTV.com, “I wanted to put myself out there in a dangerous and scary, overwhelming situation; something that was big and just to show people that you can win that battle with that big, scary thing called cancer.”
Nelson wasn’t particularly surprised by her aquatic companion, telling GrindTV, “To me it was a total God thing. We prayed at four that morning that God would reveal his beauty and creation and nature, and allow me to endure this long trek, so for me it’s not such a huge surprise that this happened.”
Nelson completed the trip, becoming the first woman to ever do so. And with Larry’s help, Jodie has now surpassed her original goal of $100,000, according to her Paddle With a Purpose page. What a team!