Insights: Having Fun and Doing Good

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Last Saturday I participated in Standup for the Cure, which raises over $125,000 to provide mammograms, and money for breast cancer research.

It was a blast to be paddling with a thousand other paddle boarders in Newport Dunes. The sun was shining, the water smooth—what a day.

It was amazing to be around all these people, from families with kids to teenagers, young and older couples, singles—even dogs participated.

The energy at this event was fun and spirited as we got to listen to a local band and saw people dressed in costumes.

There were incredible raffles and silent auctions of paddleboards, SUP gear, yoga classes, an assortment of outdoor gear, and Disneyland passes, just to name a few items.

While there you could also get a free cancer screening. But apart from being able to make a difference, enjoying the paddling, there was also getting a wonderful free lunch from Ruth Chris Steak. It does not get much better than this.

Well actually it did. I ended up winning a wonderful SUP outfit and a tent from the raffle, and from the silent auction I won a paddle board for about half the price I would have paid in a store. Best of all, 100 percent of what I paid went to the Susan G. Komen organization.

How did this organization get started?

Nancy Brinker’s sister, Susan G. Komen, was dying of cancer. Brinker promised her sister she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. Now nearly $1 billion – yes, $1 BILLION – has been raised to make her commitment to this goal.

My point in sharing this is that we can all make a difference in the world, and often this can come from the challenges we have to face.

While at the Standup for the Cure, I met an amazing guy, Will Schmidt, who has an incredible story.

Struggling with debilitating depression, anxiety and PTSD, he was persuaded by his mother to go paddle to get him out of the house, which was very difficult for him. Paddling made such an impact on his life he started to use it as a way to help not only his own depression and anxiety but to make a difference in others lives as well. Will would raise money and awareness by paddling different long distance routes such as Catalina Island to Dana Point.

Even our own editor of the Newport Beach Independent, Christopher Trela, is launching a cookie business called Sweet Charity Cookies, which part of the profits going to charity. Chris has a love for food and loves to give back to the community, and he makes amazing cookies, believe me.

What better way to give back than using our passions, and at times our pain?

Maybe setting up an actual organization might be not what you are looking at doing right now, but there are so many other ways to participate in making this world better.

Let me count the ways: Running 5ks, half marathons, marathons and trail runs where your entrance fee goes towards a charity.

Then there is volunteering your time to something you enjoy doing such as working at a thrift store once a month, helping build a house at habitat for humanity or just walking the ladies dog down the road who just had surgery.

Of course a cash donation never goes a miss. What about being on the board of a charity. Or traveling to a third world country and taking medical supplies, or giving the clothes you have not worn recently to working wardrobes.

Just look up City of Newport Beach to find how to give back to our community. You can also visit to find out what other opportunities are available.

I actually had my puggle trained to be a therapy dog so she can go into hospitals and nursing homes to sit with people.

Having fun and doing good. Life does not get much better than that.

Dr. Zavala can be reached at [email protected] or

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