Arcata, Calif., (September 21, 2009)– Kokatat, the independent paddlewear and accessories company, is sponsoring a 1,300 mile journey from Norfolk, VA, to Key West, FL. On behalf of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Justin DeForest will set out September 28th on the two-month expedition.

DeForest is using the expedition to raise money and awareness for the foundation. Dubbed the "Penny Paddle Pledge" campaign, donors can contribute one penny for every mile Justin travels.

"The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is an organization I respect and support, and this is my way of showing that," Deforest said. "By kayaking down the Atlantic coastline I will be able to interact with local communities and spread the word about the foundation. There are very few places in the country not affected by wildfire, be it southern California or the coast of South Carolina."

Thousands of firefighters work arduous hours fighting forest fires throughout the country. As seen from the devastating fires in southern California, accidents happen and in some cases firefighters are killed. The foundation helps families of deceased firefighters and assists the injured and their loved ones.

Deforest is currently living with his family on Cape Cod and manages a crew of firefighters who provide support to firefighting operations around the country. He was a firefighter in California before September 11th, 2001, but after the terrorist attacks DeForest, a former military serviceman, was inspired to re-enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. He was assigned to a new counter-terrorism unit based out of Seattle, WA.

While working in the field as an explosives detection diver, DeForest was exposed to a virus that caused an autoimmune deficiency in his body that doctors cannot explain. After contracting the disease, he suffered from fevers, rashes, and an inflammation and deterioration of his joints. The virus is essentially eating his joints and cartilage, and as a result, the medical condition drastically altered his life, forcing him to take daily injections in order to function normally.

Despite these hardships, DeForest has pushed himself to develop the idea for the Intra-Coastal Waterway expedition and pledge drive. Kokatat supports Deforest's efforts and is providing him with gear to successfully complete the expedition. To support the expedition, a donation sheet can be downloaded at  http://www.wffoundation.org/Page.asp?NavID=122.

To read more about the trip, go to Justin's blog: http://www.ice2009.com/” http://www.ice2009.com/