Courtney Conlogue has been spending more time in the ocean than normal, but it’s not just to surf. She’s bent on helping others, training to complete a 32-mile journey on a prone paddleboard from Catalina Island to Huntington Beach on Saturday, August 29 as a fundraiser for nationwide non-profit organizations Feeding America and A Better Chance.
The idea for this challenge came to Courtney after driving past one of Feeding America’s food banks, where she saw a two-mile line of cars filled with families just waiting for food during the pandemic. The nonprofit has a network of over 200 food banks across the country and feeds over 46 million people, and Courtney wanted to help.
“I know I have always competed, but a huge thing that I have very dear and close to my heart is giving, helping and supporting others that are in need or dealing with challenges, and to empower people to believe in themselves,” she told me.
Courtney originally considered donating prize money if she was on tour competing; however, with the pandemic’s lasting impact and cancellation in 2020, she had to get creative about how to help.
She recently did a training run from Huntington Beach to Dana Point, a 26-mile jaunt, so she’s as close to ready as she’ll get. “The significance of this paddle is the journey. I want to show people that through a challenge, you can get beautiful empowerment and that you can rise to any occasion. No matter what’s in front of you, you can accomplish it with process, plan, perseverance and tenacity,” Courtney said.
Paddling from Catalina to the mainland is a traditional journey celebrated in several races, including the Catalina Classic so she’s following a well-worn route. Her brother Ryan and friend Landon Holman will also make the trek with her. GoPro has sent her multiple cameras to attach to her board to bring fans along on the ride, which she’s already started sharing on her Instagram.
In addition to a full Instagram Live of the paddle on Saturday, August 29, which she anticipates will take seven and a half hours, Courtney also wanted to share her training and random bits of laughter along the way, as well as personal stories and those of inspiring individuals. For example, why she chose to donate to A Better Chance, which is a non-profit organization that helps young people from financially-challenged families receive a better education and opportunities for a brighter future.
“My brother, sister and I went to public school in Santa Ana, where one of our counselors shined a light on A Better Chance,” she said. “She told us about the program because we came from very humble beginnings, and we each ended up getting academic scholarships. That’s how I got to Sage Hill (preparatory school in Newport). There’s no way we could have afforded anything like that.”
“I’m a product of that charity, and it really helped create who I am today.”
Editor’s Note: You can donate to Courtney’s chosen causes, here.