Activist Spotlight
January 03 2020

Activist Spotlight: Christy Gray of the Northern Ohio Chapter

by Sarah Damron

Q: Why and when did you get involved with the Surfrider Foundation?

I am a stand up paddleboarder on Lake Erie, which includes a lot of training and racing, with a new interest in downwinding and surfing. I have been involved with a variety of environmental issues over the years. The focus of much of my artwork has been about water, water quality and water conservation, and I was introduced to the Surfrider Foundation over 20 years ago when my husband was a member. When the Northern Ohio Chapter was getting started in 2018, I knew that I wanted to be involved.

Q: What are some local issues that are affecting your ocean, waves and beaches?

Sadly, it is the same story as everywhere else, plastics in the water and on the beaches. In addition, we suffer from toxic algae blooms on the western part of Lake Erie that continue to grow.

Q: What Surfrider projects have you worked on?

We have done beach cleanups and have the first two Great Lakes Friendly Restaurants in our region. We try to partner with other local organizations, such as Share the River and the Port of Cleveland to do on the water river cleanups in the Cuyahoga River in advance of regattas and events on the river.

Q: What has been the highlight of your Surfrider experience (i.e., campaign, program, victory)?

The Northern Ohio Chapter earned our charter in August, 2019. We have a great group of volunteers from our executive team to our volunteers that helped in our cleanups and are moving our mission forward in Northern Ohio and on Lake Erie.

We hosted a Bar Crawl fundraiser in July that introduced a lot of new people to Surfrider, but also netted us a healthy boost to our budget.

Q: What is the most important thing you tell others about Surfrider?

We are a passionate group of water enthusiasts that care very much about our environment. We work our hardest to protect the lakes and rivers that we call home.

Q: Why are you a Surfrider coastal defender (or why is being a Surfrider coastal defender important to you)? 

I spend an extraordinary amount of time in and on the water in Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. I want to protect this body of fresh water that provides drinking water and our playground to be safe and protected.

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