'Paddle for Promise' raises money for youth leaders in Wilmington

WILMINGTON, Delaware (WPVI) -- "The more you push yourself and know that you can get things done, you can do it," said 14-year-old Misty Osborne. "I would have never thought that I could paddle down about seven miles, but I did it, and it's just great to have a feeling of success."

Osborne is an assistant team leader with UrbanPromise Wilmington, a group that connects children and young adults to mentorship opportunities and community activities. Today's event was the third annual Paddle for Promise, which sent dozens of participants down a 7-mile stretch of the Christina River.

"With me becoming a young adult soon, it's just really good for my life, so, I'm actually really thankful for it," said Osborne about the paddling challenge.

Osborne oversees a group of fellow teenagers known as StreetLeaders who can earn a paycheck mentoring children in after-school programs and summer camps.

"We want to be able to be a good example for them," said Jaevon Rayfield, 16, a current StreetLeader who was mentored in his youth. "It makes you want to, like, do less of what you see on the streets and stuff."

Teenagers like Rayfield are motivated and inspired by Rob Prestowitz, who founded UrbanPromise Wilmington 24 years ago after being affiliated with a group of the same name in Camden, New Jersey.

"I met some young people and I thought literally, if that was my brother or sister, that I would be compelled to do something to help," said Prestowitz. "You see their potential, their passion, their creativity, and you recognize there's a gap in the opportunities and tools they're given to reach that full potential like I would want for my children."

Prestowitz has worked tirelessly to close that gap over the last two decades. And although he finds that awareness has been heightened, he says there is still work to be done.

"There's a team paddling and you've got to paddle in sync, but it helps when the whole current is running with you, too," he said. "So, I think if the current of society and the paddling of all its members would work together, I think we got an opportunity to win the race."

Since the paddling event concluded this afternoon, UrbanPromise Wilmington has raised just over $100,000 to benefit children and young adults within their organization. To learn more or donate, visit their website.

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