Bedford Co.,VA- Armed with just a paddle-board, an extreme athlete plans to go around the entire perimeter of Smith Mountain Lake. That's 530 miles.
Tom Jones says he is motivated to raise awareness for Safe Surfin Foundation. The foundation is Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown's nonprofit to fight online predators.
Paddle-Boarding takes a lot of muscle and endurance. Jones plans to paddle board 20 miles a day on the lake. He says his own personal connection to this cause will keep him going.
"The lake honestly is a challenge. There's plenty of wind, there is a lot of boat traffic so there are a lot of wakes," said Jones.
Jones says these are just minor obstacles in his big goal of paddle-boarding 20 miles a day. He'll cover the entire 530 mile perimeter of Smith Mountain Lake to draw attention to another battle online.
"I've been incredibly shocked at the amount of individuals that are out there on the Internet preying on children," said Jones.
Jones knows all too well how it can end. He was a victim of sexual abuse as a child in foster care.
"It literally takes their innocence, and steals their soul. I know that first hand. I am personally invested in this project because of my past," said Jones.
"Part of the problem we have is so many of the parents and even the educators are not aware of the level of danger that is out there," said Lieutenant Tony Martin Bedford County Sheriff's Office.
That's where spokespersons like Jones come in. Like Shaq and Ponch before him, Jones' feat on the water will bring in much needed funding to Safe Surfin', like a $1,000 check donated by the Blue Ridge Dental Group on Tuesday. The money helps put more investigators on the ground and send out much needed advice to families.
"The most important thing I could tell a parent is to supervise your child online," said Martin.
Believe it or not Jones says this Smith Mountain Lake challenge is just a warm-up. This is all leading up to his challenge to paddle board from California to Hawaii. Jones hopes to complete his lake challenge by August 25, and there will be a big celebration.
Jone's challenge celebration will be August 25 at the Beach Bash at Smith Mountain Lake.
Get more information on the event's website.