Photo by Randal Ford,

The Flatwater Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides access to mental health services for those in need affected by cancer. This summer, Lake Austin will provide the setting for the second annual Dam That Cancer fundraiser, a 21-mile stand-up paddle and party on Monday, June 20, 2011.

When Dam That Cancer’s Founder Mark Garza’s father was diagnosed with stage-4 prostate cancer, his life was forever changed. Garza rallied to support his father, who quickly took aim at the disease with both traditional and nutritional treatments. What he never anticipated was how far the effects of his father’s diagnosis would reach, and how much it would change his own life.

Garza found solace standing on his paddle board, propelling himself across the cool waters of Lake Austin. It was in this experience that he began to see the importance of a clear and healthy mind when facing something as devastating as cancer. In addition, Garza realized that traditional cancer treatments and medical bills can empty wallets and drain resources, leaving families and those in need of mental health support left with no options or means. Through this realization, Garza made the choice to combine his personal and professional experience to make a difference in the lives of survivors and their families.  That difference has manifested itself in the form of the Flatwater Foundation and its premier fund raising event Dam that Cancer.

The Flatwater Foundation’s integrated approach combines access to traditional methods of psychological counseling, in combination with mental wellness provided by physical activity in the forms of yoga, meditation, group exercise, stand-up paddle boarding and personal training for Austin families impacted by a cancer diagnosis. All proceeds raised are in support of The Flatwater Foundation.

Dam that Cancer was born when Garza approached his good friend Rob McKinnie, a survivor of testicular cancer, about traveling the entire length of Lake Austin to help take a stand against cancer and McKinnie immediately jumped on board. Last year, the first annual stand up paddleboard journey took place on McKinnie’s birthday, exactly ten years to the day he completed his chemotherapy.

This year a select group of 75 paddlers, including Garza, McKinnie and some notable guests will show their commitment in the global fight against cancer, with each paddler raising over $1,000 for The Flatwater Foundation. Their reward – together they will travel the entire length of Lake Austin, from Mansfield Dam to Tom Miller Dam – 21 miles – testing their physical limits as they take this journey on stand-up paddle boards for over eight hours under the hot Texas sun. Along the route, Dam That Cancer sponsors and volunteers will accompany the paddlers onboard our “sponsor-ships,” donated party-boats that will provide water, food and plenty of encouragement.  Austin landmarks will provide plenty of opportunities for the public to come out and join the waterborne caravan as it proceeds toward the finish line, and the “We Paddle, You Party” event at Abel’s On The Lake.

The We Paddle, You Party event runs from 4-7PM.  A donation of $40 or more will classify those 21 and over as VIP’s, allwing entry into the VIP lounge for complementary food, specialty beverages and prizes from Austin Paddle Sports, auction items from Lake Austin Spa, Texas Ski Ranch and more!

Dam that Cancer Finishline Celebration
Monday June 28th
Abels on the Lake
3825 Lake Austin Blvd

Visit the Flatwater Foundation Website


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