Santa Barbara area lifeguards will join the “SoCal PaddleDown for Cancer Relay” when it reaches Arroyo Burro (“Hendry’s”) Beach on Friday, Aug. 23.

The 250-mile relay started in June at Imperial Beach, near the border with Mexico, and has continued up the California coast throughout the summer. The Santa Barbara lifeguards will paddle through their jurisdiction before handing the paddle board to the next agency up the coast.

The paddle relay, which involves more than 25 ocean lifeguard agencies along the coast, will end at El Refugio State Beach in Gaviota by Labor Day weekend.

The “SoCal PaddleDown” is raising awareness for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s  “Block The Blaze” skin cancer education program. The paddle, which is geared to the Junior Lifeguard Programs of Lifeguard and Marine Safety Agencies throughout California, was specifically established to help promote the “Block The Blaze” initiative.

“As lifeguards, we spend the majority of our careers in the sun and we know the dangers of sun exposure,” said Bill Humphreys, President of the California Surf Lifesaving Assn. (CSLSA)  “The SoCal PaddleDown” is a great way of raising awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, and the JWCF is providing the next generation of lifeguards the tools and information to prevent and detect skin cancer.” 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with nearly 4 million people diagnosed annually, according to the JWCF. 

“Sun damage is cumulative, so the sooner we can provide lifesaving information to our youth, the better,” said Lauren Fraga, Senior Program Director of JWCF. “Each summer, nearly 25,000 Junior Lifeguards learn how to be sun safe through our “Block The Blaze” presentations, after which they are given sunscreen and a hat to immediately implement sun safety. We are grateful to the CSLSA for helping the JWCF promote sun safety.”

The “Block the Blaze” program is the official partner of the CSLSA to provide skin cancer education to Junior Lifeguards throughout California. To support this effort with donations, please visit

Noozhawk Sports Editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.