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Dam That Cancer party Monday

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published May 30, 2013

When Mark Garza’s father was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, he found peace by gliding down Lake Austin on a stand-up paddleboard.

Monday, he’ll be leading a flotilla of 75 people on paddleboards in a 21-mile trek from just below Mansfield Dam to a take-out near the Tom Miller Dam to spread the word about the importance of mental health when facing a cancer diagnosis.

I’m planning to tag along on the Dam That Cancer event for a few hours as the group pushes off from just below Mansfield Dam at dawn. I’m already thinking zen thoughts to prepare.

The public is invited to a celebration from 5-8 p.m. Monday at the finish line, Hula Hut, 3825 Lake Austin Boulevard. The event, featuring a DJ, live music, food and raffle prizes, is free, but a $100 donation buys entry into the VIP section with complimentary food and drinks.

All proceeds will benefit the Flatwater Foundation, a non-profit organization that, as Garza puts it “hopes to bring families back to the serenity of flat water, so they can focus on overcoming cancer, not the waves of mental challenges that arise.”

Money will be used to provide those diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones access to mental health therapy and family support. That includes psychological counseling, as well as an integrated approach to wellness via yoga, meditation, group exercise and personal training.

Each paddler is raising at least $1,500 toward a $200,000 goal. To contribute, donate online at or at Monday’s party at Hula Hut.