Volume 8, Issue 76  |  September 22, 2023SubscribeAdvertise

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Lido Paddle Project to serve our frontline protectors

On Friday, March 13, 2020, our lives changed in one way or another. In an instant, our perspectives shifted, humility arrived, and, for more than a moment, we felt unified to battle a national pandemic. It was shortly after the arrival of this surreal time, Norman Rest found himself pondering his role and purpose here on earth.

With Hoag Hospital standing tall in his field of vision, Rest was reminded of his wife Debra Kottke’s vision to promote wellness through her favorite new sport – stand-up paddle. Over a decade ago, she felt a calling to provide aid to those in need, for those feeling challenged or off balance.

In that moment of gratitude for the many protectors out on the front lines, Rest knew that they must begin a nonprofit to serve and honor our first responders and Veterans by providing recreation, wellness, balance and strength through stand-up paddle, kayak and other related offerings. And, naturally, Kottke felt peace in this decision that a dream she paved over a decade ago would finally be realized.

Lido Paddle Project was born in Newport Beach this past summer and immediately began serving protectors in Lido Bay, including Newport Beach’s outstanding lifeguards.

Lido Paddle Lucas Heydorft

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Courtesy of Lido Paddle Project

Newport Beach lifeguard Lucas Heydorft

To meet the increased demand of larger groups, the organization also operates from the Back Bay, as well as Dana Point Harbor. For the more experienced, ocean ventures are offered out of Laguna Beach.

The nonprofit is here to uplift our leaders, heal our healers, protect our protectors and turn the focus back to health and immunity. 

A dreamer and builder from birth, Rest grew up considering that anything he could imagine, he could make happen. 

His father served in WWll, while his entrepreneurial mom started her own hair salon business on Rodeo Drive at age 19, the same year she co-authored The Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking. His parents taught him great values, a strong work ethic, respect and honor. They always encouraged him to do what he loved and to follow his dreams – which grew and blossomed while spending childhood summers in his family’s modest second home in Newport Beach.

After being a teenage “treehouse master,” Rest, at age 21, set out to build a three-story home for his young family. This venture launched him into an illustrious lifelong career of building several homes in Laguna Beach, shortly followed by larger developments throughout Orange County. Today, his projects and properties are visible in many regions, states and several countries.

In addition to his wife and two children, Rest’s greatest passions include playing and restoring stringed instruments, surfing, downhill skiing, E-biking and paddling.

Co-founder Kottke is a brilliant force of nature to all who know her. A world traveler, real estate investor and joyful adventurer, she has always been an advocate for health and fitness. She fell in love with stand-up paddling 13 years ago in Colorado, years before this ancient Peruvian fishing activity gained mass popularity in California.

It was Kottke who inspired Rest to feature this new form of SUP recreation at their Newport Beach sailing club which ultimately transitioned to Lido Paddle Sports. The impeccable timing of this business pivot proved successful and well-suited for the Newport Beach community. 

Kottke grew up in the Midwest with a family who inspired physical activity for balance, strength and health every day. As an avid hiker and expansive thinker who loves to conquer new heights, she understands the value of solitude in nature to recharge and regroup. Mountain biking, downhill skiing, hiking, yoga, paddle boarding and conquering new heights – including Mt. Kilimanjaro at almost 20,000 feet – all keep Kottke intrigued and fulfilled when she is not focused on her successful business as an independent court deposition reporter.

Lido Paddle Rest and Kottke

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Norman Rest and Debra Kottke, Lido Paddle Project co-founders

The family’s current philanthropic involvements include ocean stewardship, water preservation, wind energy, holistic healing, music, education and Veteran-related causes.

Knowing that it takes a strong team to succeed, Lido Paddle Project’s board of directors’ talents span from Western medicine to holistic healing, with PTSD specialists and innovative practitioners. Since the onset of the pandemic, Veterans and first responders are among the most vulnerable and severely impacted communities. In addition to our first responders facing unforeseen levels of mental and physical stress, our Veterans are facing isolation-related challenges to their health.

Lido Paddle Project’s mission is that together we do more, and that service heals. One of the few safe distanced sports, many Newport Beach citizens have stepped up to be harbor tour leaders, corporate partners, donors, event committee volunteers and community ambassadors. LLP is coordinating “Stand Up To Clean the Harbor” events with Surfrider, and plans are underway for a larger outdoor launch party with partners at Newport Dunes this spring.

To learn more or get involved, visit www.lidopaddleproject.org, email Chief Development Officer Michelle Highberg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 949.813.7681.

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