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Florida man set to paddleboard 400+ miles for foster kids

Nicholas Holzerland is about to paddleboard around the state of Florida and into the Bahamas in hopes of raising money for a foster home in his community.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nicholas Holzerland has always felt at home on the coast. He was born in St. Petersburg. Even his dad was born here.

“That was like 1961 or 1962,” he said.

The 23-year-old grew up kayaking and eventually tried surfing. He gravitated to any activity that could be done on the water.

His latest love is paddleboarding.

The St. Pete native left the beaches of Pinellas County for Port Charlotte nearly two years ago to open a watersports company, It’s Time Kayak. 

In doing so, he was able to get out on the water all the time and help others fall in love with his hobby, too.

That’s how he came to meet the kids at Crossroads Hope Academy Boys foster home. 

“I started working with the Crossroads Hope Academy foster home and basically I am starting a fundraiser for them,” Holzerland said. “That way we can raise money just so they can go on a once a month event next year for their 20 kids, all boys.”

The school, which is near Punta Gorda, is for boys only. The kids wanted to try paddleboarding but funding wasn’t available. Holzerland decided he would take them on a trip for free but got the idea to fundraise for future days on the water.

That idea led him to the trip of a lifetime.

“I am going to go from Bartow, Florida, which is the start of the Peace River all the way down to peace River,” said Holzerland, who will embark on the journey on October 27, ending in Bimini, Bahamas.

He estimates it will take him three to four weeks to complete the 429-mile trip on his paddleboard. He plans to camp along the way and document his travels on social media.

His hope is to get attention on his trip and parlay that attention into fundraising for Crossroads Hope Academy.

His goal is to raise $6,000, which would provide one year of paddleboarding trips for foster kids. 

“I had great parents growing up we got to take me out fishing and do all types of things,” he said. “I can’t complain one thing about my parents so I really feel like I owe it to just help out at least a little bit to some kids who could really use it.”

Holzerland took a spin around the waters of St. Pete again Thursday afternoon. He paddled through waves near the new St. Pete Pier off Northshore Park. His craft glided through the water with ease.

Hopefully, his trip around Florida to help kids will go just as smoothly.

For more on the trip, visit www.paddleforpeople.org

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