RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The annual fundraiser, Paddling For Pennies, a 193-mile kayak down the Neuse River is underway. The team of four kayakers departed Raleigh Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. and will wrap up in New Bern, North Carolina Saturday around noon.
The grueling journey is one Allen Williford first made in 2013 when he and another Triangle firefighter started the fundraiser.
"We asked for a penny for every mile we paddle," Williford explained. "So, $1.93 is cheaper than a soft drink or coffee nowadays. And I mean, we'll take any amount of course. It's all about fundraising. Each year we find a person in need."
This year, the trip is dedicated to fallen Wayne County Deputy Matt Fishman. Fishman was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving involuntary commitment papers in August.
"With Matthew Fishman, one of our board members is a Goldsboro Fireman," Williford said. "And, I called him because it took place down in his section, and he informed me that their sons were best friends. So that hit home a little more for us. It's kind of every year is a personal journey for us. We meet these families. We talk to them-they have-they've affected us in this small world you know, we live in. That's what also gets us down the river is while we're paddling and it's hurting, we're thinking about our families."
"To date, we've been able to donate about $75,000 to different families and other charities," Williford added. "We're pretty proud of that number."