Autism fundraiser spurs Bath man to paddle around Manhattan

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BATH — As he completes a 25-mile paddle around Manhattan on Saturday, Malcolm Gauld will be propelled by strong arms and his love for his son.

The Bath resident and Hyde Schools president is taking part in this year’s Surfers’ Environmental Alliance Paddle NYC event Aug. 20, riding his stand-up paddle board to raise money for autism research.

Created in 2007, SEA’s primary fundraiser has raised more than $1.8 million for nonprofit organizations related to autism and environmental preservation.

Gauld’s 22-year-old son, Harrison, was diagnosed on the Autism spectrum as a small child. Required to raise $1,000 for his endeavor, Gauld set a goal of 10 times that amount and, as of Aug. 13, had raised $10,140.

“People started coming out of the woodwork” once they knew about his fundraiser, he said. “They’ve really been very nice.”

“I’ve done the fundraising part of it,” he noted, adding with a laugh, “now I’ve got to buckle down and do the paddling. That’s a minor detail.”

Thankfully, Gauld’s athletic experience is as strong as his fundraising skills.

Along with being an avid stand-up paddler, the 62-year-old has run five New York City Marathons and plays Grand Masters lacrosse and basketball.

Still, it’s his first time paddling such a long distance; his longest trip was 15 miles.

“I’ve never done anything like this, so it should be interesting,” Gauld said. “… This will be a challenge. I’m told that the current is with us most of the way, which will help a lot.”

He expects to complete the full trip. While there’s a race division, which could finish in four hours, he’s with the recreational group, and expects to be done within six hours.

“I asked myself, ‘Could I get up on a paddle board and paddle for six hours,'” Gauld said. “I think I could, but I guess time will tell.”

While he has plenty of experience on a paddle board, this is the first autism benefit in which Gauld has participated.

When he looked up paddle trips around Manhattan, Gauld was pleasantly surprised to see Surfers’ Environmental Alliance chose autism as one of its causes.

“It’s kind of near and dear to the heart,” Gauld said. “That’s a cause that’s always meant a lot to me, my wife, and my family.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Malcolm Gauld of Bath will undertake a 25-mile stand-up paddle board trip around Manhattan to raise money for autism research.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.