Orange Bowl Paddle Championship Welcomes Miami Native Home During His 3,500 Mile Standup Paddle Board Journey
Former Army Special Operations Delta Force Operator Josh Collins returns home to Miami this Saturday, May 7, in the middle of a 3,500 mile journey to complete a world record for “Longest Journey by Stand Up Paddleboard.” Collins will appear at the Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship Saturday, May 7 at the Miami Marine Stadium Flexpark and receive a proclamation from the City of Miami. The Championship begins at 9 a.m. with the ceremony for Collins set to begin at approximately noon.
A Miami native, Collins has dubbed his trip “Veteran Voyage 360” and is committing his journey to raising awareness for the 22 veterans a day who commit suicide, while at the same time raising money for the Task Force Dagger Foundation, which supports veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Collins is paddling 3,500 miles on a Stand-Up Paddle Board from Corpus Christi, Tex., to New York City, completing the trip at the end of July. Collins is calling his trip along the East Coast “Operation Phoenix.” After successfully conquering the Gulf Coast, Collins will arrive in Miami on May 5 and participate in the Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship on May 7 at the Miami Marine Stadium Flexpark. The Miami Police Department’s “Do the Right Thing” program is providing hundreds of small American flags to welcome Collins, and the City of Miami will be honoring his service and journey with a proclamation. The Christopher Columbus Senior High Patriot Club will be collecting donations for Task Force Dagger Foundation and attending the event to cheer on Collins. Spectators wanting to support Collins’ return home to Miami are welcome to attend, and a post-event rally will be held on site following the Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship.
For Collins, this voyage is the ultimate triumph over “disability” – the diagnosis, the medications, the alcohol, the pain and the loss. A former member of the elite U.S. Army Delta Force and an Army Ranger, he deployed several times to Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. Collins is also a wounded warrior. He suffers from numerous Traumatic Brain Injuries. At first he had a rough time dealing with his injuries, popping prescribed medications and self-medicating with alcohol until he eventually reached his limits and ability to function and was hospitalized for sustained TBI therapy. After his hospitalization, his wife Tonia purchased him a Stand Up Paddle Board for recreational therapy.
It was on the water that Collins found a sanctuary. Severe vestibular (inner ear) damage, nerve damage and palsy in his right eye, and cervical spine compression now fused, left him continuously off balance on dry ground, but the rolling surf calmed him. As Collins says about paddle boarding, “Everything holds still when I’m on the water.”
Having nearly lost it all, he is now determined to make a difference in helping other Veterans navigate these perilous waters of life after combat. His mission is to raise $22 million dollars through two efforts: this voyage to set the Guinness World Record for the “Longest Journey by Stand Up Paddleboard,” followed by a Global Row, with his sights set on completing the first ever nonstop, unassisted, manpowered voyage by small vessel around the world.
The sixth annual Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami will take place Saturday, May 7, 2016, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Miami Marine Stadium Flexpark located at 3601 Rickenbacker Causeway. The Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship is one of the largest Stand Up Paddle (SUP) events on the East Coast. The Championship welcomes paddle boarders of all levels from around the world to the waters of Biscayne Bay. Since the inception of the championship, the event has raised approximately $140,000 for the South Florida community.
Media Availability: Josh Collins will be arriving in Miami on Thursday, May 5, and will be participating in the Windhaven Insurance Orange Bowl Paddle Championship approximately at noon on May 7. Collins will be available for interviews upon arriving in Miami and at the event.
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