Local Chef to Paddle Around Manhattan for Austism Awareness

A Miramar Beach man is busy training for what could be the most challenging race of his life. Phil McDonald is preparing to paddle around the island of Manhattan in the 6th annual Surfers Environmental Alliance Paddle NYC event on August 17th. He is one of about 200 participating in the elite paddle race. And along with the challenge, it's for a very good cause.

As the owner and executive chef of Table Five Private Chef and Catering, Phil McDonald makes himself right at home in the kitchens of others, preparing gourmet meals and catering events. But he might be most at home paddling the crystal blue waters of the Emerald Coast. "I love anything to do with the water. Growing up surfing here it's not the best conditions all the time. It's like this (flat) a lot. So paddleboarding afforded me the ability to get out on the water every single day," said McDonald.

He's about to put his paddling skills to the test: paddling the length of a marathon around the island of Manhattan. "The elite race is essentially 26.5 miles of non-stop paddling. We are starting at Pier 40, going up the Hudson River, going around the Bronx and down the East River and finishing under the Brooklyn Bridge," said McDonald.

The SEA Paddle NYC race is a fundraiser for the Surfers Environmental Alliance and more than a dozen autism organizations. "Tthe more money we can give to that cause the better," said McDonald. He has been training hard, especially since the conditions in New York won't be quite as friendly as Northwest Florida's quiet waters. "There are currents and there are seaplanes and ferry boats and other obstacles, but it should be a lot of fun. Let's just hope the currents are going in favor of my direction," said McDonald.

Organizers of the race hope to raise $500,000 for austism awareness and the SEA. Phil was hoping to contribute $3,500, but surpassed that amount thanks to a fundraising dinner at Buddha Lounge this weekend. If you would like to contribute, click on the link.


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