SAN ANTONIO – Paddling a canoe is more than just a sport for one group of people, which is why they have made it their mission to educate the community about the Hawaiian tradition of family.
The San Antonio Outrigger Canoe Club has been around for about three years with an official nonprofit status of two years.
The group is made up of several members ranging from age 10 to over 70. They gather as much as they can to paddle a 45-foot, 450-pound canoe.
“It holds six people,” said Robert Forti, president of the organization. “It brings with them this kind of sense of family and well-being and comradery that you just don’t find in a lot of other sports.”
Forti said before the organization came about, his life changed once he started paddling years ago.
“It was like blessing,” Forti said. “It was a godsend for me. Not only did I find that exercise I was looking for but I found a new connection with myself and the friends I made there.”
He said his life was at a struggling point before he was introduced to canoeing. Forti said he was devastated when he realized his life as a school coach in education had a time limit because of his health problems.
“I no longer could be on the field the length of time I was on the field for,” Forti said. “You put so much time and effort and energy in your kids, your students and without that I felt lost. I am not overstating this when I say it really saved my life. I was kind of in a dark place in my life at that time. I was really unsure of just my direction of where I was headed. Career wise and a lot of other things.”