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The “SoCal PaddleDown For Cancer Relay” hit the shores of San Clemente City Beach on Thursday, July 25, before continuing on the next leg of its 250-mile paddle up the California coast.

As part of the relay, lifeguards from more than 25 jurisdictions take turns paddling a 10-foot prone paddleboard up the coast beginning in Imperial Beach near the Mexican border and ending at El Refugio State Beach in Gaviota.

Last week, San Clemente Lifeguards and Junior Lifeguards paddled the official paddleboard through their own jurisdiction before handing the board off to the next agency up the coast.

The purpose of the “SoCal PaddleDown” is to raise awareness for the John Wayne Cancer Foundation’s “Block The Blaze” skin cancer education program. The paddle is geared toward the Junior Lifeguard Programs of Lifeguard and Marine Safety Agencies throughout California and was specifically established to help promote “Block The Blaze.”

“As lifeguards, we spend the majority of our careers in the sun, and we know the dangers of sun exposure,” said Bill Humphreys, President of the California Surf Lifesaving Association. “The SoCal PaddleDown is a great way of raising awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, and the JWCF is providing the next generation of lifeguards the tools and information to prevent and detect skin cancer.”

San Clemente Lifeguards and Junior Lifeguards took part in an ocean paddle on Thursday, July 25 as part of the SoCal PaddleDown For Cancer Relay, which promotes sun safety and skin cancer awareness among lifeguard agencies along the California coast. Photo credit CSLSA
San Clemente Lifeguards and Junior Lifeguards took part in an ocean paddle on Thursday, July 25 as part of the SoCal PaddleDown For Cancer Relay, which promotes sun safety and skin cancer awareness among lifeguard agencies along the California coast. Photo credit CSLSA

In California, one in three residents will be diagnosed with skin cancer during their lifetime. Nearly all skin cancer is curable if caught early and treated quickly. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with nearly 4 million people diagnosed annually, according to the JWCF.

The “Block the Blaze” program is the official partner of the CSLSA, to provide skin cancer education to Junior Lifeguards throughout California. To support this effort with donations, please visit jwcf.org.

The program has educated more than 100,000 Junior Lifeguards about sun safety and skin cancer, with an emphasis on skin cancer prevention and screening. In addition to early detection and how to recognize the first signs of skin cancer, the program teaches the Junior Lifeguards how to protect themselves from harmful sun exposure.

The San Clemente Junior Lifeguard Program is an ocean and beach safety program for youths ages 9-17. Participants receive education and experience in ocean safety, first aid, rescue techniques, body and board surfing, physical fitness and Marine Safety operations.

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