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HCI Cares – Community Service on the Beach

Piper’s Angels Foundation was founded by Travis Suit when his four-year-old daughter, Piper, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis in 2011.

A terminal lung condition, those living with Cystic Fibrosis rarely live full lives. Many impacted by the condition die exceptionally young. Those that live into adulthood have to endure long periods isolated in hospitals away from the outside world. Suit started Piper’s Angels to raise money for research into Cystic Fibrosis and to spark empathy in the community. Cystic Fibrosis is an isolating illness. Suit’s goal is to combat that isolation; bringing empathy and joy into the lives of sufferers. When he learned how beneficial the ocean could be to those with severe lung conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, Suit knew he had an opportunity to raise money and enrich lives in a way that had never been done before.

The first Crossing for a Cure was undertaken by Suit and three of his friends. Over the course of 15 hours they paddled 90 miles from the Bahamas to West Palm. The idea being to bring awareness to Cystic Fibrosis and the benefits of the ocean. Over the next few years, the event would expand rapidly. 2019 saw the greatest Crossing for a Cure event yet. It had more than twice as many paddlers involved compared to 2018. This year, 225 paddlers crossed the ocean from Bimini in the Bahamas to Lake Worth Pier in West Palm. The exhausting 80-mile journey took most paddlers between 10 to 12 hours to complete. Many entrants began the journey at midnight or in the early hours of morning to beat the summer heat.

The opportunity to be involved in this deeply meaningful event came to HCI College when the college learned of the event through Piper’s step-mother Liz. Liz is a registered nurse who graduated from HCI College several years ago. The need for medical oversight at such a strenuous event was immediately apparent. HCI College agreed to work Crossing for a Cure into their students’ volunteer hours, getting them involved in the local community and providing an opportunity to practice in the field. HCI College nurses, EMTs, and paramedics saw to the first aid needs of all 225 paddlers crossing the finish line. These students were responsible for measuring blood pressure, cleaning cuts and scrapes, and providing food and water to replenish the energy of exhausted paddlers. All of this was done amongst sun, sand, music, and vendors on the Lake Worth Pier at the Crossing for a Cure Beach Landing Party.

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