Sea Kayaker Alex Okerman Paddles for Youth

by Eric Soares on May 17, 2011

Alex Okerman will embark on his solo circumnavigation of the San Juan Islands on June 2nd

Many good causes merit our support.  In the sea kayaking community, folks are especially generous with their time and money.  This week’s post centers on a kayaker who has made it his mission to assist youth at risk.  He’s putting in the time and is asking us to put in money.  Let me introduce Alex Okerman, a Seattle-based paddler with a message.  Here’s Alex, in his own words:

From June 2nd to June 6th, I’m planning a 5-day solo circumnavigation of the San Juan Island Archipelago to raise money for the YMCA’s annual Partners With Youth (PWY) campaign. Using sea kayaking as my medium, I intend to raise $2,000 that will go towards our overall branch campaign goal of $505,000. The money raised will go towards Y programs that strengthen our community by providing housing for homeless young adults, intervention and counseling for teens in crisis, and child care for children of low-income families.

Last year, I successfully completed a 38-mile circumnavigation of Orcas Island and raised over $1,200 dollars that directly benefited youth by building self confidence, developing leadership skills, and reinforcing positive values. After such a powerful experience, I’ve decided to attempt a bigger trip with a bigger financial goal. This year, my trip will be an 87-mile solo circumnavigation of the San Juan Islands, and I’ll attempt to raise $2,000 or more. During the trip, I will encounter strong currents, stretches of impenetrable coast line, wildlife, and large open water crossings. This particular route has been a dream of mine for a long time, and it has become even more exciting organizing it around the Y’s PWY campaign.

You can support the Partners With Youth campaign by donating money towards each mile I paddle. The total trip is 87 miles long.  Any amount you can give is beneficial to the Y and the community we serve.  To donate, call me at 206.271.1583, email me at, or mail a check made out to the YMCA at 2100 24th Ave. S. #250 Seattle, WA 98144.  Please address the envelope to Alex Okerman.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful consideration and support!

Alex Okerman, Young Adult Services Case Manager

Alex Okerman, a young man with a mission to help kids

Since children are the future, and every child deserves a chance to be healthy and strong, I plan to support Alex’s paddling endeavor and contribute to this worthy cause.  I hope you will consider doing the same.  -Eric

Alex paddles solo for a good cause


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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

ann eastwood May 17, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Alex is combining two of his passions. I’m certain it will result in success.
Good luck Alex!


Fat Paddler May 18, 2011 at 6:38 am

That’s just awesome! There’s simply nothing better than combining an outdoors passion with helping out important charities. Bravo to you my son, will be happy to donate a few Aussie dollars as soon as I work out how!


Alex Okerman May 18, 2011 at 8:41 am

Thanks for the interest and support Ann and Fat Paddler! I’m looking forward to the trip and I’m excited about how the money raised will support the youth and young adults I work with! Let me know if you have questions.



Eric Soares May 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Alex, Best wishes to you on your upcoming trip. I do have questions for you.

1. Say one of us were to put in $1 per mile. If the trip is 87 miles, and for some reason you have to quit after 40, then do those of us who pledged for you only pay $40? Or $87? Or $0? Curious minds want to know.

2. In the original material you sent me, you mentioned that readers could push a button via Facebook and donate that way. Since I’m not a Facebook guy, I can’t do it that way, right? And how do Facebookers donate? Thanks.

I ask that you be prudent on your solo journey, as you won’t have friends to assist you should you suddenly need it. You are doing a good deed, and everyone wishes you the best. G-e-r-o-n-I-M-O!


Alex Okerman May 21, 2011 at 11:02 am


1. Most folks are donating however much they can. For example, some are donating $25.00, some $87.00 and some a whole lot more. Once the money gets donated it enters the Y’s gigantic donation system and I don’t believe I can take it back out. If someone wants to donate money to the exact mileage I paddle I would suggest waiting until after my trip when I release a trip report. That way, if I have to bail and I only end up paddling 40 miles then people can donate just $40.00.

2. The best way to donate is to follow this link: If you have a facebook account you can join the “Paddle for PWY” group.

Being that this is a solo trip, safety will come first in all situations! I understand and respect the unique dangers that come with paddling this kind of route, especially solo. I have a few years of paddling experience in the San Juan Islands, will take all safety precautions, and I will plan ahead and be prepared.

Thanks again for the questions, the support and the advise! It means a lot and as the trip gets closer I’m getting more and more excited.

Let me know if you have additional questions and thanks again!!



Eric Soares May 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Thanks for answering the questions.

I think $87 is a good number, $1 per mile. That’s what I’ll go with, no matter how far you get. Although, unless the Rapture happens soon, I believe you’ll make the entire distance, no problemo.


Alex Okerman May 25, 2011 at 11:32 am

Thanks so much!



ann June 2, 2011 at 10:28 am

It go time Alex and the skies have cleared. Wishing you fair winds and sunny skies.
Ann & Steve
PS the check’s in the mail 🙂


Eric Soares June 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm

There will be a little gift package for you upon your return.
Bon voyage!


John Soares June 2, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Good for you Alex!


Eric Soares June 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm

To my readers: Alex successfully completed his circumnavigation of the San Juans!

Congratulations, Alex!

Everyone who intends to donate to Alex’s cause, do it now. Hey, that means me. Gotta go.


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