Photos by Simon Krenk
By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
Over 250 women and girls participated in the 10th annual Get Out Girl Surf & Paddle Jam on Lake Austin, raising over $70,000 to benefit those who work on the front lines.
“Over one third of the participants were female first responders, military, nurses and front line workers,” said Cindy Present, lifelong local resident and event founder. Approximately half of those who work on the front lines received sponsorships to attend the Surf and Paddle Jam complimentary.
The event is in honor of Travis County first responders Kristin McLain and Jessica Hollis who both lost their lives while in service and both have connections to Four Points.
The Surf & Paddle Jam was held September 30 and October 1 at the Steiner Ranch Lake Club at 12300 River Bend. Surfers and paddlers took the 5.5 mile path to the Low Water Crossing at Mansfield Dam.
Present said it is hard to narrow down the highlights of the weekend.
“I have a motto of the starfish theory, and that is if it touches one life, it is worth doing. This event touches hundreds on so many different levels,” she said. “The stories shared, the confidence gained, the way the event stays with individuals and makes impact for life decisions, the unlocking that occurs on the water that leads to releasing stress, grief, loss… the empowerment that Kristin and I wanted to accomplish by creating that very first event is definitely taking place – even 10 years later.”
Both McLain, a STAR Flight nurse who lived near where the event takes place, and Hollis, a Travis County Sheriff’s Office senior deputy, both lost their lives while on duty.
Hollis died in September 2014 after being swept away while checking a low water crossing in the Four Points community around the Fritz Hughes Park area near Mansfield Dam.
McLain died in April of 2015 after falling from a STAR Flight helicopter hoist while conducting a rescue operation in a dense greenbelt near Lake Austin.
The event that McLain co-founded now is done in her honor.
“Kristin and Jessica, as humble as they were, would definitely be honored – yet in the same breath, say keep doing the work – there are so many female first responders that are hurting,” Present said.
More than $70,000 was raised at this year’s event and these funds will go toward the annual fall retreat, private outings, small events and resources to get individuals on the water and nature through water sports, cycling and running, Present said.
More than 100 volunteers, including many men, helped the 10th annual Surf & Paddle Jam run smoothly from unloading paddle boards to offering snacks at stopping points along the way.
The event was put on by the nonprofit Operation Get Out, which in 2023 provided resources and outings for over 1,200 individuals.
Operation Get Out is also a chosen charity for the Austin Marathon weekend and will be sponsoring individuals to utilize walking and running as a means to “Get Out” for positive mental, emotional and physical wellness, Present said.