The River Ellis Foundation exceeded their initial fundraising goal after raising more than $200,000 for the foundation’s kick-off event.

On September 15th, more than 200 people arrived at the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum to celebrate REF’s Launch Party & Paddle Out event. The purpose of this inaugural event was to discuss the mission of the foundation and to celebrate River’s 1st birthday. Attendees enjoyed beer donated by Hoffman Beverage and delicious food catered by Baker’s Crust. Board members Doug Ellis, Blair Fine and Annabelle Stiffler spoke about why the foundation was started as well as the organization’s mission: to give a sunrise to those who have unexpectedly found themselves in the middle of their darkest our. Everyone then gathered on the beach to participate in a memorial paddle out in honor of River.

The River Ellis Foundation will hold the paddle out annually to celebrate River’s birthday as well as to honor the lives she continues to impact in the Hampton Roads Community.

We are so grateful to everyone who came out to this event. The foundation is off to a great start thanks to the support of this amazing community!

Rachel Ellis
Doug, Rachel and Henry Ellis. Henry was born on August 30th, 2019. Just in time to celebrate his big sister River’s 1st birth and the official launch of The River Ellis Foundation.

People heading out into the water for the paddle out ceremony.
Board members Annabelle Stiffler (left) and Blair Fine (right) discuss the mission of the foundation.
Everyone joined hands in prayer on the beach before the Paddle Out Ceremony.
While many paddled out, there were lots of individuals who stayed and participated from the beach.