Scroll down to learn more about each of The Castaways.
Click on the names below (or any of the “DONATE” buttons) to help us reach our individual and team goals.
The Castaways Team Goal for 2019 is $100,000. Thanks for your support!
“Diamond” Diana Perez, our Little Mermaid, gives leadership to the best-ever, world famous, amazing and spectacular Castaways Road Crew.
Having worked with Lou Aguilera in banking for years, she joined the team along with El Toro. In 2014, her son, Danny, “El Camello,” was the first Junior Castaway, paddling a leg of the tour at the age of 14.
Before, during and after the trip, Diana works with the team on logistics including hotel negotiations, shirt production and meal planning. She also serves as team muse and team mom. Mom? Sometimes, paddlers need a hug… or a kick in the coccyx!
Diana leads an ever-growing team of Road Crew Family. She has put to work her son, David, and his friends, as well as, her awesome parents. She is also supported by family members of paddlers, especially Lou’s wife, Marisa Aguilera, and their daughters, Vic and Dani, as well as, Omar’s wife, Mercy Sellek.
Diana is appreciated for her incredible support of the people on the team and for her valiant work in the fight against cancer. Along with Lou, she provides great leadership to the team at US Century Bank and has helped raise thousands of dollars in the fight.
Peggy Plumadore is Berger’s sister. Their father passed away from cancer, and since then, Peggy and her husband Joe have been passionate cancer fighters.
During the trip, they give leadership to the “Happy Hour Road Crew.” Happy hour? Because they don’t do mornings!
Peggy and Joe, along with their daughter, Lisa and her boyfriend Danny, ensure the team is fully hydrated at the end of the day. When the kayaks hit the sand, and hands release from paddles, they make sure something cold goes in those hands. They also provide several home-cooked meals during the trip, which are some of the food highlights of the tour.
Before, during and after each trip, Peggy and Joe are tireless fundraisers. Whether it’s making and selling magnets or doing a booze cooler raffle or hosting a fundraiser at one of their favorite haunts, Peggy and Joe raise thousands for the cause.
Carrie Helliesen – the inspiration for the Just Breathe Tour of 2017 – has been with the Castaways Against Cancer since the beginning. When the team first started, the fundraising supported the Relay for Life in Miami. For the first two years, the staff there… well… didn’t know what to do with us!
But Carrie – who worked for the ACS in the Keys – she welcomed us with open arms each year and was thrilled to welcome our arrival in her town – Key West. It wasn’t long until the team decided to move our fundraising dollars to the RFL in the Keys. Carrie is a cancer survivor and spent a career fighting the disease. She is a tireless advocate for the work done by the ACS – and she is a tireless supporter of the Castaways.
After retiring from the ACS, she decided to keep her support going by becoming a Castaway! She’s raised thousands as a team fundraiser and has even paddled the final leg into Key West. Carrie is also our Media Relations Specialist in the Keys, ensuring we are covered on the radio and in the newspaper.
She is married to Doug Helliesen, who has become a key part of the Boat Crew. For many years, he has followed the team on Day 7 as it comes in to Key West, keeping us hydrated and safe. And on our final break, Doug often delivers delicious mangoes! He’s also an amazing wood-worker and has provided the team some of its best recognition.
Heather Utset is a Senior Manager for the American Cancer Society and the “handler” for the Castaways. Handler means she puts up with us! She is amazingly helpful in coordinating elements of the launch, landing and the annual closing party. While she also handles administrative duties related to the fundraising, she’s critical in keeping the team aware of how impactful the fundraising is – and how it’s making a difference in the lives of families every day.
For the #NoSurrenderTour, Heather is planning on picking up the paddle, raising funds on her own, and joining the team for part of the trip!
CCNN - Christopher Columbus News Network
For several years, students from Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, who serve on CCNN, a school-run news outlet, dedicate part of their summer to following the team during their journey and documenting the mission.
The students have produced multiple award-winning documentaries related to the trips, whether it was highlighting 2016’s Proof of Life or sharing the story of Sebastian Ortiz, a fellow student who passed away from cancer.
Students from CCNN have also developed logos, shirt artwork and created video teasers over the years. And they often get put to work by Diana on the Road Crew too!
Michael @ CLT CREATIVE & COASTAL COPACETIC
The CLT CREATIVE Team designed & manages the new Castaways website & other creative for the 2019 - No Surrender | 20th Anniversary Tour.
Michael (owner of CLT CREATIVE & Coastal Copacetic) is a longtime friend of 2 Castaway Paddlers, Anthony Berger & Patrick Linfors, and is excited to partner with the entire Castaways Against Cancer Team.
My Family: Proud husband to Tiffany and super proud parents of our only son, Nolan, who is a junior in college.
Personal Fun Fact: Used to be a DJ for a Classic Rock radio station during college. Takes an annual trip to Islamorada and Key West to fish for Tarpon & hangout with some awesome friends. Loves to travel and has visited 30 U.S. States & Territories (so far). Favorite places to travel: Florida Keys, Hawaii (Big Island) & NYC.
Where are you from? The Southeast (have lived in NC, SC, GA, LA & TX). Charlotte, NC area has been home for the last 16 years.
Where did you go to school? CLEMSON University. Go Tigers!
Like many others, we too have unfortunately lost family members in their courageous fight against cancer.
Tiffany’s mom, Beverly, is a cancer survivor and an active member of a Relay For Life Team in Venice, FL.