Long-time Kelowna environmental activist, Bob Purdy died this week after a battle with cancer.
Purdy, 64, was best known in the Okanagan for his one-man quest to raise public awareness of the world’s environmental problems. To do that he paddled every day for 1,000 days. And starting in 2011, regardless of rain or shine and in good conditions and bad, Purdy dusted off his Stand Up Paddle board and hit the water, mostly in Okanagan Lake but also in a variety of other places, depending where he was.
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When he passed the 1,000 day milestone there was no stopping him.
“Back on day 1,000 when asked how long I would continue to paddle everyday, I said ‘as long as my health holds or until we actually change the way we live on the planet,'” Purdy said, to the Capital News at the time. He stopped only when a hernia “entered the danger zone.”
Kelowna filmmaker Carey Missler took notice of Purdy and made the award-winning documentary The Paddler Movie. It explored the topic of water conservation through Purdy’s eyes and was given an award of excellence by the Canadian International Film Festival.
His passing earned attention from SUP publications as well as Mayor Colin Basran who acknowledged Purdy for his contribution for environmental awareness and called him a “great man.”
During his incredible paddling streak, a movement began called Paddle for the Planet, where a series of simultaneous paddles take place around the world, uniting paddlers in an environmental movement. Events have been organized around the world since 2011 with countries joining in for World Paddle for the Planet Day.