Paddling for healing

The recent Paddle for HEAL was a “huge success,” according to local organizers.

Alan Pickert, St. Nicholas resident and president of the nonprofit, Healing Every Autistic Life, said HEAL’s focus is helping local children on the autistic spectrum, as well as their parents. Money raised for the organization is used for local camps and programs in North Florida. This summer, for example, HEAL had 18 camps that helped more than 350 autistic children in Jacksonville.
More than 400 people attended the Paddle for HEAL event, which took place on the shoreline and in the waves at Ponte Vedra Beach. Participants and organizers — many from the St. Nicholas, San Marco and San Jose areas — helped raise more than $30,000 during the event.
Pickert said a personal highlight for him was teaching a 12-year-old autistic boy how to ride a stand-up paddleboard.
“He did great, in fact he eventually stood up and paddled for a distance,” shared Picket, whose wife and daughters also participated in the paddle event.

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