top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarol Ann Ross

Paddle 4 Troops

Love the Vets, the ones who give their lives to our country. They are the best and I keep finding people who feel the same way I do. This time, my hat is off to Dwight Torres. He and his son are the ones who founded PADDLE 4 TROOPS. That was twelve years ago. According to Dwight, his son Joshua, who was then a student at Topsail High, initiated a project - paddle board races down the Intracoastal.

“I didn’t know if I would ever see my father again,” Josh explained about the years during his father’s deployment overseas. “Surfing, it was therapeutic, it helped me cope with not knowing,” he went on to explain how those years helped him realize the healing powers of the water. From that sprang the idea for P4T.

Together, Josh and his father found sponsors for this new endeavor, and before you know it, they created Paddles for Troops. That first year they raised over $2,000 for local veterans. This wildly popular event has grown exponentially every year since and has, as of now, raised over $160,000.

Paddle 4 Troops is a non profit organization. They work with local veterans, supporting them in all kinds of ways. You may ask, isn’t the federal government supposed to be doing this? Well, I’m sure, as many of you can attest, waiting on the government to do something is like pulling teeth. Dwight Torres and his band of Paddle 4 Troopers, makes things happen quicker. They sort of fill in the gaps. Dwight knows how to cut through the red tape and make things happen. After all, Dwight is a 20 year veteran of the Marine Corps, and takes his obligation to helping veterans very seriously. Example: the time to supply a support dog to one particular veteran would have taken nearly a year, Dwight made it happen in two weeks.

To help you understand even more clearly how P4T helps vets-the government pays for only immediate family to attend a funeral, Paddle 4 Troops helps extended families attend. They also help vets rebuild after hurricanes, they supply Christmas gifts to families in need, they offer emotional support, financial support and so much more. They also offer a scholarship program for dependent children of vets.

P4T have a long list of sponsors including Sears Landing, Backyard Tavern, Realtor Jenna Morton, Matt Bowlin, Island Breeze, Good Shepherd of Wilmington, Salty Turtle, Loggerhead Inn, Shuckin’ Shack, Unique Media and Design and many more local Topsail businesses. A big shout out to Scallywags for supporting our veterans with their Stars and Stripes Shootout.

On Saturday, September 16th, Paddle 4 Troops held its annual 12th paddle board race, held at Sears Landing Grill and Boat Docks in Surf City. Over $100,000 has been raised in the past two years, with the proceeds going towards the organization’s mission to help veterans.

Susan Griffin, the treasurer for P4T, and long time friend of the Torres family, explained that when someone expresses a need for help, the board (Susan, Lori Chaney and Joshua Torres) gets together and discusses the need. “The needs are met for local vets and their families,” Susan added. “That’s the safest way to get funds to people in need.”

Secretary, Lori Chaney, has known Dwight and his family for 20 years and says he is an honorable man who is passionate about P4T, and possesses a strong willingness to make a difference. “The mission for Paddles 4 Troops is converting challenges into support.”Lori says, “and it is an honor to help fulfill Dwight’s dream to help veterans.”

It is always a delight to meet caring and giving people, people who do things for their communities, who take time out of their lives to give. What I have seen is that once they start giving, it becomes a passion and that passion becomes their lives, their purpose. All of this gives me hope for humanity. God Bless the givers and the doers. Thank you, Mr. Torres and Josh Torres for conceiving this wonderful idea. I will end this little piece with Joshua’s words, “I hope I can be half the man my father is.”


bottom of page