An idle mind can be an amazing thing – when relaxing at the cottage, Jennifer Evelyn came up with an idea to paddle some 300 nautical miles from Toronto to Ottawa to raise funds for children’s hospitals.

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The broker at Re/Max Real Estate Centre in Mississauga (but who trades in Durham Region) will kick off her Paddle for Miracles fundraiser on Toronto’s waterfront near the Hospital for Sick Children on Aug. 23. She will paddle along the north shore of Lake Ontario to Kingston, then will venture up the Rideau Canal, finishing her trip at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

Spurred by the Month of Miracles plans at Re/Max and having a bit more time on her hands (she was managing an office until the end of April) Evelyn says she was doing some soul searching and wondering what’s next. She knew she wanted to help people. So she combined her passion for stand-up paddling with a cause.

Evelyn reached out to Bruce Johnson of Re/Max by the Bay in Wasaga Beach and ran her idea by him. He told her, “Yes. You can do it.”

“To say that this has been inspired by Bruce Johnson and the Motorcycle for Miracles journeys would be an understatement,” says Evelyn, who has sponsored and supported Johnson’s many fundraisers. “I reached out to Bruce and told him that I had the crazy idea to paddle from Toronto to Ottawa (on my stand-up paddle board). In true Bruce fashion, he embraced the idea and the Paddle for Miracles was born. My goal is to promote this Canada-wide and raise $50,000 for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN).

For anyone who would like to start a fundraiser but doesn’t know how, she says there’s nothing like reaching out to someone who has done it before.

“Bruce has been a huge help,” Evelyn says, A) getting me started; B) keeping me going and C) providing contacts and resources.”

Johnson will be at the launch and the landing. His two daughters are in Ottawa so Evelyn says, “it lined up perfectly.”

To promote the fundraiser she is relying on the experts at Re/Max (public relations and content manager Lydia McNutt) and CMN. Evelyn says she’s more of a cheerleader type who prefers to be in the background, supporting others as she has done since she began her real estate career in 2006.  But now she’ll be stepping out of her comfort zone to speak about her Paddle For Miracles event.

Depending on the weather, the trip will take between two and four weeks. She has a team of people looking after her business but won’t step away completely. She will start her days at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. daily, paddle until 10 a.m. or 12 p.m. depending on the water and weather, break for a couple of hours and meet with local agents, do a couple more hours of paddling and then work.

Evelyn came into stand-up paddle boarding by accident four years ago. “My girlfriend wanted to try it out and wanted me to go along,” Evelyn says. Needless to say, she “got into it” (her friend however did not) and Evelyn has been enjoying stand-up paddle boarding ever since. She started paddling on Clear Lake north of Huntsville and later paddled Sturgeon Lake. For the last two summers she has ventured on to Lake Ontario.

She first talked to Johnson on June 24 and took three weeks to work through the mental part of being away from the business and home. She wondered if she could physically do it.

But once she started talking about it, even though she reached out to a select few, the support has been overwhelming, she says.

For more information and to donate to the Paddle For Miracles, click here. Donations will go to each donors’ local children’s hospital.



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