With the busy summer season fading like a vacation suntan, we checked in on a couple of our friends who are still involved with significant efforts to raise funds and awareness and make a difference. For one, the journey is actively under way; for the other, the quest continues to document the effort and share the story.

If you live along the coast of New England, you may have seen a local newscast or two about Deb Walters, the 63-year-old grandmother who’s on a quest to paddle her CLC-customized Chesapeake 18 kayak 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala to raise funds and awareness for Safe Passage, a charity assisting the families and children living in the garbage dump community in Guatemala City.Deb Walters

As of September 17, Deb had conquered more than 450 miles and reached New York City after 38 days of paddling – some days solo, some days with a companion or two – along the coast. She’s battled fatigue, an injury, bad weather, and contrary currents, but the daily posts on her blog remain upbeat and interesting as she makes her way south, stopping for speaking engagements and making new friends along the way. She also had raised more than $60,000 toward her goal of $150,000.

In addition to her blog posts, Deb’s progress can be followed live online through her Delorme GPS tracker. Perhaps more fun are the reactions of local newscasters who pick up her story with a mixture of incredulity and admiration. 

Two years before the “ice bucket challenge” that’s gone viral on social media and raised more than $110 million by mid-September of 2014 for ALS research, there was Rick Clark’s Row to Canada.

Along with his brothers Geoff and Dana and other family members and friends, Rick undertook an ambitious project to symbolically recreate an impulsive, youthful stunt and row the length of Puget Sound from Vaughn Bay, Washington, to the Canadian border – this time to raise money for ALS research in memory of Mark Smith, Rick’s co-conspirator in the first voyage, who had recently lost his life to the devastating disease.

The 2012 team of six first built three Northeaster Dories for their quest and, being far more organized than Rick and Mark had been on the 1970 adventure, not only planned and prepared for their mission, also carefully documented it, from the boat building class in Port Townsend to the finish line. Rick’s short film version, “Rowing Smitty,” is the basis for a longer documentary still to come, and has been featured at film festivals in the Seattle area, including the upcoming Northwest Film Forum’s Local Sightings Festival, where it will be included in a grouping of documentaries beginning at 5 pm on September 28 at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle.

Can’t get to Seattle for the festival? Watch “Rowing Smitty” here