Friends and Neighbors

Paddling event to raise money for cystic fibrosis research


Special to The Miami Herald

Sixteen years ago, pediatric gastroenterologist William Muinos was paddling on his kayak thinking about one of his young cystic fibrosis patients who had just passed away.

“I was close to the family and I was feeling frustrated. I thought, I gotta do something,” Muinos said.

So to raise awareness of this debilitating disease, which often begins in infants he started the Miami Paddle Challenge. It used to be a kayak-only event. Now, if you can paddle, you can participate. People on kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, rowboats and dragonboats are all welcome.

Muinos, who lives in Coral Gables and attends patients at Miami Children’s Hospital, said the first year he made a solo paddle from Key Largo to Miami. Now, over 200 paddlers participate to raise awareness and money for research. The more than $400,000 raised through the challenge has gone toward development of a new drug, Kalydeco, which thins the thick mucus that develops in cystic fibrosis patients.

“I am so thankful that we can showcase our event to raise funds for this research,” Muinos said.

The Miami Paddle Challenge will be Sept. 28 at Matheson Hammock Park off Old Cutler Road. You can participate in a tour-for-the-cure or paddle in the 3-6-12-mile event. Pledged funds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Paddle day will begin with pre-race nutrition, with lunch served when participants are finished. All who finish will get medals.

Registration forms are linked to the Facebook Miami Paddle Challenge page at and the South Florida Cystic Fibrosis Foundation web page at


As children go back to school they are often confronted with bullying and teasing. Alan Shorter’s musical adaptation of Oliver Button is a Sissy, based on the popular children’s book by author Tomie dePaola, is an inspiring story that teaches children of all ages to follow their own paths.

The Insignia Vocal Ensemble will perform the story at 4 p.m., Sept. 22 at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd. The price is $20 with everyone 12 and under admitted at no cost.

“While targeting the timely topic of bullying, our performance of Oliver Button is a Sissy acts as “edutainment” to both teach and entertain children through a heart-warming experience of song and dance,” said Anthony Cabrera, Artistic Director of the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus.

The cast will provide complimentary arts and crafts for children during a reception after the performance. For tickets, check out


Test out your skills in the water at the first annual Swim For Alligator Lighthouse, an eight-mile open water challenge planned for 8 a.m., Sept. 21 at The Moorings Hotel and Resort, 123 Beach Rd., Islamorada. Artist Lighthouse Larry who made the swim by himself in 2012 and now wants others to get involved is spearheading the event. Swimmers can go alone or as part of a team.

The event from the creators of Swim Miami, is hosted by The Friends of the Pool, the Fighting Manatees Swim Club, and Race Director Jonathan Strauss.

"I applaud Lighthouse Larry for his efforts in trying to save and preserve the lighthouses of the Florida Keys. I am so proud to be a part of this life changing event," Strauss said.

The main swim kicks off with a Thursday Night Islamorada Art Walk on Sept. 19 and on Sept. 20 Olympic Gold Medalists Jon Olsen and Gary Hall Sr. will hold a warm-up session, followed by check in and a Full Moon party by the bay at Morada Bay Island Restaurant.

Swim day will be at the Moorings Beach Front. There will be a sunset ceremony at 6 p.m. with awards given for the Top 3 male and Top 3 female swimmers. All who accomplish the swim will receive finisher medals.

All swimmers, parents, triathletes, and weekend warriors are welcome. Athletes with a disability are also encouraged. For more about teams and groups and to register visit There will even be a non-competitive division to allow for masks, snorkels, fins, and wetsuits.


Guiding children can be challenging for all parents. Foster and adoptive parents of difficult-to-place kids often take on a lot to help their charges succeed. Our Kids of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties recently honored some of these exceptional parents. Among the “Heroes for Our Kids Award” honorees were William Presswood, of Kendall, and Adah and William Clark, of Homestead.

Presswood makes it a mission to help teen boys with difficult issues such as running away, aggressive personalities, and drug use. According to a release he “takes them with him to all his vacations and is on top of their education, making sure they are on track, getting them into night school, virtual school, and whatever is needed for the children to succeed in school.” He also transports them to school, medical appointments, and independent living training. He has adopted a teen boy and wants to help others.

Adah and William Clark have been foster parents for two years and in that short amount of time they have made huge differences in the lives of the children they are helping. They also spend time actively searching for other quality foster parents to help the many children in our communities who need care.

For more about other honorees and to learn how you can help visit


You can light a candle to remember the elders who made a difference in your life from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 15 at Southern Memorial Park, 15000 W. Dixie Hwy., in North Miami. Grandparents Day, a free community event, will also include a fundraiser for the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation.

Also joining in the cause will be the Miami Animal Services Adoption bus, Avon, Costco, Vitas and the American Legion Post 67. There will be refreshments, raffles and give-away prizes at the main event. Fundraising will be held at many of the parks around Miami-Dade County. For more call 305-947-3543.


Members of Soroptimist International of Coral Gables recently started a Mustard Seed project at Agape, a faith based, non-denominational facility at 22790 SW 112th Ave. Agape houses women who still need treatment for alcohol and drug addiction after their release from jail.

The goal of the project is for the women to develop a food forest garden where they can learn about nutrition and medicine as they heal themselves. Food from the garden can later be sold at a farm stand in the Goulds community in South Miami-Dade County.

Future plans also include creating a small nursery for seed germination and plant propagation. For more information on how to help at the beginning of this transformative project, write, or call 305-789-0043.

If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at

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