Castaways Against Cancer arrive June 13 in Key West after paddling from Miami to raise money for cancer research. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

“It’s the worst trip you’ll ever love,” laughed Steven O’Brien, who launched the first Castaways Against Cancer kayak trip from Miami to Key West 21 years ago. 

O’Brien, a colon cancer survivor, was on Key West’s Smathers Beach the afternoon of June 13, waiting for nine long-distance kayakers to come into view and finish their 160-mile trip from Miami. 

The group paddled 20 to 30 miles a day, stopping each night at various places throughout the Keys while raising money for cancer research and honoring those who have battled the disease in all its forms. 

The Castaways have raised more than $1.1 million since 2000. The 2020 trip raised more than $77,000, but that figure will double, as every dollar raised this year will be matched by the University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center

The nine kayakers with Castaways Against Cancer approach Smathers Beach in Key West on June 13. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys WeeklyCastaways Against Cancer arrive June 13 in Key West after paddling from Miami to raise money for cancer research. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
The land-based crew of Castaways Against Cancer welcomes the kayakers to Key West with final encouragement and cameras. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
The paddlers receive a warm welcome to Key West. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
One paddler’s son was thrilled to see his dad reach his destination in the Southernmost City. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly
Cancer survivor Steven O’Brien launched the Castaways Against Cancer first paddle from Miami to Key West 21 years ago. LARRY BLACKBURN/Keys Weekly

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