Lifeguards for Life

The Giving Coast

Pictured: Robert Martini paddling in his Surf Ski. Photo taken by Jill Martini.

Robert Martini has been a beach lifeguard for the State of Florida for the past 20 years, 17 with Sarasota County. For the last three and half years, he has also been a lieutenant for the lifeguard division, making sure local beaches are properly staffed, necessary first-aid supplies are on hand and lifeguards are fully trained. And while he may be considered a hero on the beach, Martini's passion to save lives extends beyond his lifeguarding duties, as this summer, he will be competing in the Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis, an 80-mile open ocean paddle from Bimini, Bahamas to the mainland of Florida to help families affected by the devastating disease.

The event begins on June 25th at midnight which obviously entails paddling in the dark. "We will be paddling through the Gulfstream which is a very powerful ocean current," says Martini, who has been training for the event since February, putting in long days and pushing himself in every type of water condition. He will be paddling a lifeguard craft called a Surf Ski, a type of kayak used for lifeguarding competitions and rescues. "There will be 200 paddlers with safety boats to make sure we get to Florida safely," he adds.

All the money raised from the event will go to the Piper Foundation in West Palm Beach for people suffering from cystic fibrosis. The event was inspired because of the incredible health benefits of the ocean for those living with cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. Founder and Executive Director Travis Suit's daughter Piper was diagnosed with CF in 2011 when she was four years old.

To date, Martini has raised over $2,200 for cystic fibrosis and over $1,400 for the Better Life Academy in Sarasota for children with autism. "When it comes to charities I just want to help my community and be someone that my kids can look up too," shares Martini. “When you are at your worst, we are at our best. Lifeguards for life!"

Pictured: Robert Martini paddling in his Surf Ski. Photo taken by Jill Martini.

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