Vero native paddling around Florida coast to stop in Vero Beach
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- A Vero Beach man is making waves around Florida as he travels raising awareness of the health and cleanliness of one of the state's most valuable resources, water, and will be in his hometown this weekend.
Justin Riney was born and raised in Vero Beach and considers the Indian River Lagoon his "splash zone." Over the years, he has developed a passion for protecting the water, both saltwater and fresh, and has created a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization called Mother Ocean.
On June 1-2, Mr. Riney will host two cleanups and fundraising events promoting his current waterway awareness project, Expedition Florida 500.
On June 1, residents are invited to participate in an "Ocean Hour" cleanup from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at South Beach. Later that day, from 8 p.m. to midnight, a celebration will take place at Blue Star Wine Bar in Vero Beach.
On June 2, another beach cleanup will be held at Waldo's, located at 3150 Ocean Drive from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Immediately following the cleanup will be another celebration from 10 a.m. to noon.
Expedition Florida 500 is a modern-day exploration of Florida's coastline, waterways and aquatic ecosystem, according to the Mother Ocean website.
In the same way that Juan Ponce de Leon explored Florida 500 years ago, Expedition Florida 500, or XF500, Mr. Riney and others will be documenting and exploring Florida all this year, but instead of walking on foot or sailing in a ship, Mr. Riney and others, including partners from Quiksilver, Tahoe SUP and Viva Florida 500, will use kayaks, standup paddleboards and more to get around.
While the 365-day trip is a celebration of Florida, it is also very much about raising awareness of water pollution.
Just like in Vero Beach, Mr. Riney will be encouraging people at various stops to join him in cleaning up the waterways and adjoining land.
Mr. Riney posts photos and updates about his trip using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
To follow Mr. Riney's journey, visit www.facebook.com/xf500 or www.twitter.com/xf500.
For more information about Expedition Florida 500, visit www.motherocean.org/xf500.html.