World's First Largest SUP Event on Maui Huge Surf and 430 Women
“Stand Up For Women’s Health & Fitness”
Huge, head-high surf did not keep these women away!
The island of Maui was buzzing as Stand Up For Women’s Health and Fitness was known as the world’s first and largest SUP event with over 430 registrants from around the world. These brave women participated in this one of a kind community event produced by Suzie Cooney and Tommy Callan, and was also co-sponsored with The Four Seasons Resort Maui. Huge, head-high surf did not keep these women away!
Wailea beach was the spot to be as thirty (30) additional national and local sponsors made a huge splash heard around the world to support women’s health and donated their time, staff, stand up paddle boards, and amazing prizes.
The event was free and encouraged women of all ages to attend and participate in a huge venue of events that included hula dancing, inspirational guest speakers sharing information on mental health and breast cancer awareness.
The Four Seasons Resort Maui also generously provided discounts to the guests who traveled from as far away as New York, Australia and Texas and other far distant places. Along with assisting free valet parking to the guests, their staff was on hand to assure the event was a total success.
An army of Suzie’s volunteers, which ranged from off duty lifeguards, top qualified Maui waterman, physicians and nurses, along with a Navy Seal boat team; was well prepared as safety for all was their number one mission. Things got exciting with an unusual, huge winter swell that pounded the beach. No one was hurt but two boards did break in the big surf.
More amazing volunteers acted as strong board caddies who lined up to help women carry their boards to the beach and help them get settled. The registration tent was full of ten eager smiles to welcome everyone and sign everyone in.
When the guests made it down the park stairs and onto the beach, they were blown away by what they saw. It was a site to behold. People are still talking about it to this day. Flags, tents a big stage, boards and towels and people ready to have fun.
Part of Suzie’s motivation to was to bring awareness of breast cancer and mental illness, since her mother was a recent survivor at that time and is also mentally ill; as that was one of the driving forces behind the event. Donations were also accepted to help support the American Breast Cancer Foundation.
The other reason Suzie felt so compelled to host such a grand event, was that she wanted to show the world you can stand again after any physical hardship or mental challenges and stand up paddle boarding would be the literal platform to do just that.
Suzie had a freak accident in April of 2009 where she broke her left leg and ankle and left foot in 2 seconds flat that left her in a wheelchair for several months, then onto a challenging rehab. SUP would be one of the ways she would get back to physical health and literally get her strong again to walk and live a normal life.
So one day while in a plaster cast on the left leg and a walking boot on the other she had a moment of inspiration while pedaling on her spin bike very slowly. It was while on that bike, depressed and frustrated, she had the concept to create this event to show the world that if she can stand again, so can you.
Six months later Stand Up To Women’s Health and fitness was born and changed her life and many others for years to come.
Here is a fun gallery of photos for you to enjoy in memory of this event.
Suzie’s wish for the world is to not lose hope for your health and stand up to life and health. Stand up paddling is now her life and a tool to help her and others feel good and stand strong.