Michele, a single mother of three who died this past February, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2009. Despite radiation and chemotherapy, the cancer came back in 2011 in an aggressive, untreatable form. Faced with an early twilight to her life - but refusing to let cancer dictate how she would live her remaining time – she created the Starry Ganga Expedition: Michele Baldwin’s Living Memorial. On this pilgrimage she stood tall on a paddleboard, 12 feet in length and similar to a surfboard, and "Stand Up Paddled" one of the world’s greatest and most sacred rivers. Her expedition, with every paddle-stroke chronicled by the media, raised both awareness of cervical cancer and funds for the Global Initiative Against Cervical Cancer (GIAHC).
It also caught the attention of the readers of Standup Paddleboard magazine, who vote for the magazine’s annual awards. As she accepted the award on her daughter’s behalf, Michele’s mother, Ruth Frazier, said “If Michele Baldwin were here tonight, she’d say ‘Let’s raise a toast to the power of women!”
Michele continues to hold the women’s record for distance on a standup paddleboard.
The National Cervical Cancer Coalition, a program of the American Social Health Association, is a proud partner and supporter of both the Starry Ganga Expedition: Michele Baldwin’s Living Memorial and GIAHC. Marveling at the sheer scope of the Expedition, ASHA CEO Lynn Barclay says of Michele Baldwin “Michele's strength is awesome, her dignity humbling. Her living memorial will impact countless women that she'll never know. Her simple, powerful grace is a beacon for women and families everywhere.”
As she prepared for her journey, Michele said “It will be an epic trip, my final act, encompassing a great sporting feat, a spiritual journey, and a platform to bring awareness to the evils of cervical cancer, which kills 74,000 women a year in India.”
To learn more or donate to the Michele Baldwin Living Memorial visit
The American Social Health Association (ASHA) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1914 to improve the health of individuals, families, and communities, with a focus on educating about and preventing sexually transmitted infections. ASHA’s educational web sites include: www.ASHAstd.org, www.iwannaknow.org (our redesigned and updated teen site), and www.quierosaber.org (Spanish language teen site).