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Elkridge father and son start 200-mile kayaking trip down Chesapeake Bay to raise support for hunger relief

Elkridge residents Hearly Mayr and son Andreas have set out on an adventure of a lifetime with the goal of supporting those experiencing hunger due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Embarking on a 200-mile kayaking trip down the eastern part of the Chesapeake Bay — what they are calling the Bay 200 Challenge — the two aim to raise $3 million for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, a global humanitarian agency that delivers development assistance and relief to individuals in more than 118 countries, according to its website. Mayr is also the senior director of marketing and public relations at ADRA.

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“We have been doing a lot of kayaking in the area, and we were looking at what we could do to challenge ourselves,” said Mayr, 49. “We looked at a map and it looked like something that we could probably tackle, so we [thought] let’s challenge ourselves to do something a little bit out of the ordinary.”

Adventurists at heart, the two thought up activities that would allow them to spend time outdoors while helping those in need.

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Having biked more than 850 miles across Alaska from the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic Ocean, driven from Chile’s northern Atacama Desert to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego and hiked the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on the Appalachian Trail, Mayr said he wanted to do something he had never done before while spending time with his son.

In their two kayaks, the two began their 12-day trip at Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County on Friday morning and are scheduled to end at Cape Charles in Virginia on July 27, stopping at various beaches and docks along the way.

Hearly Mayr and son Andreas climb into their kayaks with friends and family cheering them on from the bulkhead as they set off from the Elk River boat launch in Elkton on Friday July 16, 2021, on their 12-day, 200-mile Bay 200 Challenge down the Chesapeake Bay.
Hearly Mayr and son Andreas climb into their kayaks with friends and family cheering them on from the bulkhead as they set off from the Elk River boat launch in Elkton on Friday July 16, 2021, on their 12-day, 200-mile Bay 200 Challenge down the Chesapeake Bay. (Matt Button / Baltimore Sun Media/Baltimore Sun Media)

Andreas, 13, who recently finished the seventh grade at Atholton Adventist Academy in Columbia, will become one of the youngest people to kayak down the Chesapeake Bay upon completing the trip, according to the ADRA.

“I’m looking forward to having fun and a good time with my dad and helping the community with hunger,” he said Thursday ahead of the trip.

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To prepare, the two made various short-distance kayaking trips at local lakes near their home in Elkridge.

Mayr said this trip will differ from the previous trips he took because he will be taking it with his son.

“This is the first time I have done an adventure trip with my son, so this is a new experience for the both of us,” Mayr said.

Mayr said he and Andreas wanted to take the trip because it is a chance to help those in need. Mayr’s wife, Andrea, is a pediatric care nurse and a recent nurse practitioner graduate, and he said she has spent the past 16 months helping children and COVID-19 patients. He said the pandemic helped their family, which also includes 11-year-old son Carsten, put a lot of things in perspective.

“We wanted to support something at the moment that was on the minds of everybody and that was relevant,” Mayr said.

“It’s an opportunity for us to give back and we just feel very blessed to have food on our table, to have the opportunity for my kids to get an education and to have a job and to do all the things that we tend to take for granted when there are a lot of families out there that are really suffering.”

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