Florida Man Completes 2,552 Mile Paddle Down Mississippi River to Raise Funds for Disaster Relief

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To provide emergency shelter and supplies to people who have lost their homes after natural disaster or fled because of civil conflict, Erik Elsea of Cape Coral, Fla. completed a solo paddle of the full length of the Mississippi River to raise funds for ShelterBox USA.

Erik Elsea of Cape Coral, Fla. completed a solo paddle of the full length of the Mississippi River to raise funds for ShelterBox USA disaster relief.

As a realtor, I know how important it is for people to have a home and a community. By supporting ShelterBox, we can help ensure that many more families around the world will have shelter when disaster strikes.

To provide emergency shelter and supplies to people who have lost their homes after natural disaster or fled because of civil conflict, Erik Elsea of Cape Coral, Fla. completed a solo paddle of the full length of the Mississippi River to raise funds for ShelterBox USA.

He reached the Gulf of Mexico on Oct. 5, 90 days after he began his trip on July 7 at the Mississippi Headwaters in Itasca State Park in Minnesota. So far, Elsea has raised more than $50,000, enough to shelter over 50 families.

“As a realtor, I know how important it is for people to have a home and a community,” said Elsea. “By supporting ShelterBox, we can help ensure that many more families around the world will have shelter when disaster strikes.”

ShelterBox provides humanitarian aid in the form of family-sized tents and essential tools to start repairing and rebuilding homes. Additionally, the organization’s kits and boxes contain items that help transform shelter into a home, like cooking sets, solar lights, blankets, water filtration, and activity sets for children.

Elsea first learned about ShelterBox through the Cape Coral Rotary Club, where he recently served as Club President. ShelterBox started as a Rotary club project and is Rotary International’s official Project Partner in disaster relief.

“I’m honored to be both a Rotarian and a volunteer ShelterBox Ambassador,” said Elsea. “The collaboration between the two organizations enables many more people to receive the help they need after losing everything.”

Along the way, Elsea gave presentations about ShelterBox to groups such as Rotary clubs and other interested organizations. He spoke to more than 60 Rotary clubs along the route, many of which supported his effort.

“I'm glad I can be part of an organization like ShelterBox that is there to help people on their worst day ever,” said Elsea.

ShelterBox is currently responding in Indonesia following the earthquake and tsunami on Sulawesi Island as well as earlier earthquakes in Lombok Island. The organization is also helping families in the Philippines recover after Super Typhoon Mangkhut, in Kenya where flooding has made thousands homeless, and in Somalia where families are facing the worst drought conditions of a lifetime. In addition, ShelterBox is working with partners helping families fleeing from conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Lake Chad Basin. 

To support Elsea’s Mississippi River Expedition, you can make a donation at this link: http://www.shelterboxusa.org/expedition. He is accepting donations toward the Expedition through Dec. 31, 2018.

Elsea’s trip was sponsored by NovaCraft Canoe, Jack Links Protein Snacks, LuminAID, and Vango outdoor equipment. View his adventure by visiting http://www.mississippiexpedition.com or via his Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.

ShelterBox USA is a 4-Star rated charity by Charity Navigator and has Platinum status from GuideStar.

About ShelterBox
Since 2000, ShelterBox has provided shelter, warmth, and dignity following more than 300 disasters in over 100 countries. ShelterBox responds urgently to earthquake, volcano, flood, hurricane, cyclone, tsunami, or conflict by delivering boxes of essential shelter aid and other life-saving supplies. Each iconic green ShelterBox contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, a water filtration system, emergency lighting, and other tools for survival. ShelterBox USA is based in Sarasota, Florida and Santa Barbara, California.

ShelterBox is an official Project Partner of Rotary International. Tax-deductible donations to the organization can be made at http://www.ShelterBoxUSA.org or by calling (941) 907-6036 attention: Mississippi Expedition.

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