After setting out on a two-week kayaking trip down the Chesapeake Bay to support COVID-19 hunger relief last month, Elkridge father and son Hearly and Andreas Mayr completed the 200-mile journey last month, reaching their destination in Smith Island, Virginia, on July 30.
Beginning the trip at Elk Neck State Park in Cecil County on July 16, the two helped the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, a global humanitarian agency that delivers development assistance and relief to individuals in more than 118 countries, raise $9 million in its pandemic hunger relief campaign.
The trip, which they called the Bay 200 Challenge, successfully helped ADRA surpass its fundraising goal, ultimately reaching $9.9 million.
The money raised will help families who have been hard hit by the pandemic by providing access to food and other essentials, according to ADRA.
“We just felt very fortunate to have even the basic things, food on our table and jobs and access to school and health care, and we felt that the least of the things that we could do was to be able to use our time and our talents to give back,” said Hearly Mayr, senior director of marketing and public relations at ADRA.
ADRA said the pandemic continues to affect food access for millions of vulnerable families in almost every country around the world.
At least 155 million people in 55 countries were already acutely food-insecure in 2020 and needed urgent assistance, according to the Food Security Information Network’s 2021 Global Report on Food Crises.
Additionally, 1 in 7 adults with children in the U.S. are not getting enough to eat; more than five times the pre-pandemic rate, according to the latest report from the Children Defense Fund, a national nonprofit that focuses on child advocacy and research.
Mayr, 49, said it means a lot to him to have completed the challenge he and his son set out to do to help others.
“There were so many instances, every morning almost, when you were reminded, ‘Why are you doing this?’ You [could] be doing something else with your vacation or you don’t have to keep going,” Hearly said. “Those things kept pestering our minds and, just to be able to have a focus on the ultimate goal, I think that was really what drove us and got us to our destination.”
Andreas, 13, who will be an eighth grader at Atholton Adventist Academy in Columbia in the fall, is believed to be one of the youngest people to kayak the entire Chesapeake Bay, according to ADRA.
He said he hopes his effort will encourage and motivate others.
“[The trip] could help young kids my age and inspire them to do stuff to help the community,” Andreas said.