Crew Spotlight: Jess Martin Paddles for Cancer

Crew Spotlight: Jess Martin Paddles for Cancer

Our Wildway Crew is always inspiring us and making us proud. One crew member recently completed an awesome excursion for a good cause and came back with a story to tell. Here's his recap:

"Hi, my name is Jess Martin and this was my 5th year paddling the Tyler's Dam that Cancer (DTC)- a 21mile, dam-to-dam, excursion on Lake Austin for Flatwater Foundation via stand up paddleboard. It went something like this…
4am – Wake up and make breakfast
5:30am – Head out to buses for transport (luckily I live only a few blocks away from pick up)
5:45am – Load up on the buses and begin 40 min journey to Mansfield Dam
6:30am – Hug, high-five and catch up with the other 200 paddlers.
7am – Get SUP board and float out into the lake.
7:30am – National Anthem and time of remembrance from those lost that we are paddling for.
8am – Paddle Kickoff
*Countless paddle strokes*
12pm – Lunch provided
12:45pm – Load off and begin second half
*Countless more strokes and munching on Wildway Snack Mixes*
5:45pm – Arrive at cove across from Hula Hut and let the “off loading” volunteers prep for arrival
6pm – Paddle the final couple hundred yards across the lake to Hula Hut and unload
7pm – Stuff face with food and drown in margaritas
8pm – Bed

tyler's dam that cancerDuring this entire process, you find yourself within a community of supportive and wonderful people. The volunteers in boats keeping us safe, constantly asking if we need water, food or anything. The other paddlers offering words of encouragement. Seasoned paddle veterans helping the less experienced with tips of efficient stroke technique or balance suggestions. When people fall, and it’s not rare, everyone helps. Paddlers stop, catch the board, gather things and ensure the fallen gets back up and continues. We are all in this together and no one is left behind.

Look around and see names and initials written in black marker on most everyone’s body. Keeping them close to their hearts and minds when the wind shifts in front of you and each stroke is an exercise in forward movement futility. The sense of love and overwhelming support is unparalleled. This event brings people together to not just workout and check a life box of a paddle challenge, but brings people together to support not only this group but thousands of others that need it. We come together because everyone has a reason to remember lost ones and we do that the entire day. Though calm waters and waves, though headwinds and falls, together we prevail and it reminds us that even when the water isn’t flat, there is support, there is purpose and there is ALWAYS love. 


Tyler’s DTC is an event that most anyone can get behind. Most everyone has a relative, friend or personal experience/battle with cancer. Unfortunately, most of these battles end in a manner that sends ripples of grief and sadness thoughout entire communities. The Flatwater Foundation (benefactor of Tyler’s DTC) has devoted itself to providing counseling and therapy for those effected by cancer losses.

For the last 10 years DTC has been the largest funds and awareness raising event for Flatwater Foundation. This year we raise over $1,000,000 JUST through this event! One of the most impressive things about this event in particular and a huge reason I support and participate in it is that 100% of all the funds raised go straight to being others. EVERY dollar!  The food, boats, boards, time, buses, etc… ALL donated so that there are no expenses to cover. Through the immense generosities of these people and companies helping make this event possible, thousands of people in need benefit directly. 

tyler's dam that cancer
I choose to do this each year knowing full well I will hurt, I will suffer, and I will be drained… but it reminds me of those suffering every day with loss and hurt.  It reminds me of those I have lost and their struggle. It reminds me that every day with loved ones is a blessing and an annual reminder of those things- even one as crazy challenging as a 21 mile stand up paddle- is a beautiful reason to put your olive branch out and do some good for others. "