Standing Up for a Cause

Austin man aims to paddle board Texas coastline for charity

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

An Austin adventure seeker is hoping to put his skills to use for a good cause this April as he attempts to become the first person to paddle board along the entire Texas coastline.

“(I’m) going to be the first man to paddle board the entire coast of Texas, solo and unsupported. No chase boats, no chase vehicles, nobody following me on the beach. All for a charity called Patriot Paws,” said 32-year-old Aaron Gonzalez as he stood on the beach on South Padre Island Monday morning.

Patriot Paws is a Rockwall-based charity organization that provides service dogs for veterans. According to information from the Patriot Paws website, the organization, which formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2006, has placed over 130 dogs with veterans in 33 different states at a training cost of approximately $34,000 per dog.

“Another cool thing that they do is they also implement a prison program,” Gonzalez said. “After the puppies are typically 2-3 months old, they do all their basic socialization there at their (Patriot Paws) facility in Rockwall. From there, they actually go to an all-women’s prison in Gatesville, Texas where they train them for the next year to two years. And primarily, it’s with mobility assistance,” he said.

Gonzalez said the idea to use paddle boarding as a fundraising method for a charity came after he competed in a scavenger hunt-type competition in Austin last year that required participants to take a photo while on a paddle board. It was his first experience on one. “I took to it like a duck on water. I have great balance. I did gymnastics for six years,” he said.

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