July 14, 2021

Father and Son Team Up to Kayak 200 Miles to Fight World Hunger

On July 16, 2021, a Maryland father-and-son sea-kayaking team, Hearly and Andreas Mayr, will embark on an expedition they’ve named the Bay 200 Challenge, a 12-day kayaking journey to raise money for hunger relief, one of the most pressing COVID-19-related issues affecting people today. 

Hearly Mayr and his son will make a 200-mile (320 km) north-to-south traverse of the Chesapeake Bay, the largest bay in the United States.

“In the last 16 months, which had their share of ups and downs, my wife, Andrea, who is a pediatric care nurse and a recent nurse practitioner graduate, really bore the biggest share of the burden,” Mayr said. “She spent countless hours assisting critically ill children and COVID-19 patients, but that pandemic really helped our family put a lot of things in perspective.” The Mayrs have two boys, Andreas and Carsten.

“We have so much to be thankful for. We have jobs, health care, access to school, a home, food, and so many other things. Sadly, many people here in the U.S. and around the world can’t say the same,” Mayr said. He shared that as they counted their blessings, they knew that they had to do something to help others. “That’s why we decided to use our summer vacation to launch the Bay 200 Challenge, to let our community know that even though the pandemic is easing in the U.S., people here at home and in other countries are still facing very serious COVID-19-related challenges each day, especially hunger,” Mayr said. 

The Bay 200 Challengeis supporting the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) COVID-19 hunger pandemic response campaign, which aims to raise US$3 million by July 31. This support will help families hit hard by the pandemic by providing access to food and other essentials. Thanks to generous donors and partners, every dollar donated is being matched and will become US$3.

“Think about it — 200 miles, father and son going down the Chesapeake Bay,” Matthew Siliga, ADRA’s vice-president of marketing and development, said. “It’s amazing to see them taking that kind of initiative to support ADRA’s COVID-19 hunger response. The global COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and the situation is pushing families into poverty and causing an ongoing hunger crisis.

“Keeping people from going hungry and having access to proper nutrition is part of ADRA’s ongoing global response to the COVID-19 crisis, and any donation amount, any little bit helps our efforts, so please support Hearly and his son in the Bay 200 Challenge,” Siliga added. 

COVID-19 severely affected food access for millions of vulnerable families in almost every country in the world, with the impact projected to continue well into 2022. According to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises, pandemic-related disruptions, conflict, and climate change will cause hunger levels in dozens of food-insecure countries to increase to a five-year high. At least 155 million people in 55 countries were already acutely food insecure in 2020 and needed urgent assistance. Those numbers could continue to climb, disproportionately affecting women and girls and low- and middle-income communities.

The father-and-son duo will begin kayaking from Elk River Park in Maryland, United States, and head south for 200 miles, concluding their trip at Smith Island beach in Virginia. [Image: courtesy of Hearly Mayr]

ADRA’s COVID-19 hunger relief efforts continue to expand to meet the specific needs of communities worldwide. Projects include funding 200 food pantry expansions in the U.S. in partnership with Adventist Community Services; assisting thousands of South American families who lost jobs and income due to COVID-19; and teaching African communities how to plant gardens for more secure nutrition and income for families.

“It’s important to help people in need and find creative ways to do so. I’m ready to do my part and use my talents,” Andreas Mayr said. If successful, Andreas could become one of the youngest, if not the youngest, kayaker to paddle the entire Chesapeake Bay.

The Bay 200 Challenge will launch from Elk River Park south of Elkton, Maryland, on July 16. The trip will be divided into 12 stages and follow the eastern part of the Chesapeake Bay down to Smith Island, Virginia, where the bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.

The team will be traveling in two Canadian-made Boréal Design sea kayaks — the Epsilon 200 and the Epsilon 100. They plan to reach their destination by July 28. 

“This challenge is also an amazing opportunity for my son Andreas and I to experience nature differently, create new memories, and see what’s physically possible for us,” Hearly Mayr added. “You never know what new things you’ll learn from a trip like this, how it will impact your life, or how it can shape the way you see things in the future. I encourage more families to find creative ways to spend time with their children and give back to their community. It is an investment worth making.”

Mayr, who turns 50 in January 2022, is no stranger to personal adventures and travel. He has biked more than 850 miles (1,350 kilometers) across Alaska from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean; hiked the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on the Appalachian Trail; and driven from Chile’s northern Atacama Desert to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. Mayr has also retraced the Alaskan wilderness travels of Chris McCandless, as told in the book Into the Wild; crossed Russia in winter on the Trans-Siberian railroad from Vladivostok to Moscow; and several other exciting adventures. He grew up in Chile, France, Madagascar, and Kenya and has traveled throughout North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Asia. Both he and Andreas are avid kayakers, mountain bikers, and hikers. 

The original version of the story was posted by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency.