Charitable Kayak Journey From Fenwick To Baltimore Underway In Honor Of ‘Scunny’

Charitable Kayak Journey From Fenwick To Baltimore Underway In Honor Of ‘Scunny’
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OCEAN CITY — Amid a rather gray start to the day and persistent showers, a hearty group of bartenders and other friends from the Baltimore area set out on a 175-mile kayak trip from Ocean City to Baltimore early Tuesday morning on a journey to recreate the legacy of a popular Baltimore restaurateur who perished in a tragic accident in Ocean City two years ago.

For the second straight year, the group, including “Delaware” Dave Powell, Jason Mislan, Jeff Mason, Beth Roche, Joe Wandishin, Stephen Twilley, Shawn Paradise, Chris Furst and Tyler Cole, who captains the follow boat in support, set out from the marina near Catch 54 in Fenwick on a 175-mile, six-day kayak journey from Ocean City to Baltimore. For the first time, however, the course is being reversed this year with the start in the resort area and a finish, likely sometime Sunday, in Baltimore.

The trek is billed as “175 miles, eight friends, six days, one great cause, in memory of one great guy.” The great guy is Patrick M. “Scunny” McCusker, who died in August 2012 after colliding with an Ocean City bus while riding his bicycle along Coastal Highway in the area of 132nd Street. The one great cause is the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides seriously ill children and their families with the comforts of home while they undergo treatment in one of several of Baltimore’s top-ranked hospitals. Believe in Tomorrow also maintains a Children’s House by the Sea in Ocean City to provide a vacation getaway for ill children and their families.

McCusker’s passing a little over two years ago sent shockwaves through communities on both sides of the Chesapeake, from his long-time home in Ocean City to his childhood home in Baltimore, where he was an accomplished restaurateur, first with his popular Nacho Mama’s in Canton and later his Mama’s on the Half Shell just a few doors down from the original location.

Perhaps more important than his accomplishments as a successful businessman were his vast contributions and generous spirit, most notably to the Believe in Tomorrow program in general and its Children’s House by the Sea facility in Ocean City. A few years back, McCusker paddled a kayak solo from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to Ocean City, arriving at the annual Believe in Tomorrow benefit at Seacrets. He raised an estimated $100,000 for Believe in Tomorrow during the process.

Last year, a group of friends including Powell, Mislan, Roche, Mason, Wandishin and Twilley, decided to pick up the mantle and recreate McCusker’s fundraising kayak trip from Baltimore to Ocean City on behalf of Believe in Tomorrow and raised around $60,000 for the non-profit foundation. This year, Paradise and Furst joined the original crew, along with Cole, who follows behind on a boat to provide support and carry provisions, are recreating the journey again, this time with the course reversed to end in Baltimore.

At first light on Tuesday, the crew finally got their kayaks in the water from a sandy spit at the marina at Catch 54 in Fenwick and headed north through the bay on the first leg of their journey. In a steady rain and after a few last minute setbacks, the crew got underway around 7:30 a.m. and the goal on day one was to get far into the Delaware Bay.

The irony of the location for the launch at the marina at Catch 54 was not lost on the participants. Catch 54 is one of several restaurants owned and operated by the late Matt Haley and his organization. Haley, a remarkable philanthropist by any standard, was killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this summer while on a humanitarian mission in India and Nepal.

Last year, the crew raised over $60,000 for Believe in Tomorrow with their fundraising kayak trip in McCusker’s name. As of Tuesday, the team had surpassed that mark with donations still pouring in. If everything goes according to plan, the team will arrive to a welcoming party at Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon. To learn more about the effort, or to make a donation, visit