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Chaldean Aquaman Readies to Paddle the Great Lakes for Cancer Awareness
By Huda Metti :: Friday, July 27, 2007 :: 111402 Views :: Health & Fitness, Career & Education, Sports, Art, and Entertainment

Michigan, USA - Joe Bidawid, professional board rider, uses his paddle in the fight to finding a cure for cancer.  The middle child from a family of five children has his eyes set on breaking a world record as he trains to stand-up paddle surf across Lake Michigan from St. Joseph, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois. 

The Farmington Hills, Michigan Chaldean native is perhaps one of the more versatile athletes in professional boarding.  Skiing, snowboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and surfing, Joe Bidawid has mastered them all at a world class level.  Capturing the imagination of world boarders the Chaldean Aquaman has been featured in top sports boarding magazines and local Michigan papers.

Bidawid lost his father and good friend to Cancer.  Receiving such devastating and tragic losses in his life Bidawid decided began a fight to raise awareness for cancer research.  Over 50 miles of rugged water stand between him and his hopes of helping in cancer research.  If able to cross Lake Michigan, Bidawid stands to shatter the previously held world record set by Laird Hamilton's of 17 miles across the English Channel.

“Who would have thought that from the Mesopotamian deserts would raise a world class professional water boarder,” says Christina Batu a California surfer and avid fan of Joe Bidwaid.  “Okay fine, perhaps in California where surfing is a big thing, but in Michigan.” 

Paddle surfing has been around for hundreds of years, with its origins from the Hawaiian Islands.  Paddle surfing the great lakes is also nothing new as a Surf City Museum exhibit in Grand Haven pictures a stand up paddle surfer on Lake Michigan from the turn of the century.  However, the rugged and chilled waters have seen few if any courageous paddle surfers since then. 

Paddle surfers stand up on an elongated surfboard and use a long paddle to propel themselves The biggest difference between modern surfing and stand up paddle surfing is that paddle surfers don't need a wave. Paddle surfers can ride on the open ocean, on lakes, rivers or any other large body of water.   Bidawid describes paddle surfing as "kayaking to the next level."

Bidawid says his success, passion, and love for the boarding were possible due to hard-work and a supporting and loving family.  Bidawid’s siblings, older sisters Ann and Rita and two younger brothers, Fadi and Fred have always encouraged and cheered his efforts.  Joe’s mother Amina and his late father Kamal, who passed away from lung cancer in 1996, instilled an attitude of generosity, compassion, and achievement. 

The Bidawid family is no stranger to community support and generosity.  Joe’s late uncle was the honored Raphael Bidawid II, the Patriarch of the Chaldean church from 1989 until 2002. A close friend to Pope John Paul II, the Patriarch was also the youngest catholic bishop ever appointed in the Catholic Church.
Joe’s relationship with his father was very close.  Joe’s father Kamal helped nurture and guide the family, teaching them the importance of respecting and helping others.  “My father was a very active person in the community.  He was athletic, a bodybuilder, and he taught me how to swim when I was only 5 years old,” Joe reflects on how he came to love the water.  “My mother Amina was also very supportive and motivating.  She promised to make a special edition of her dolma dish. That is enough motivation for me to break the record,” he says with smile. 

“My family’s generosity and love inspires me a great deal,” says Joe.  “My family has been instrumental, especially my brother Fadi, who has provided a great deal of material and moral support and key inspiration.”

The family has always taken community activism seriously.  Sharing an example Joe says, “Throughout his life, my brother Fadi has been actively involved in fundraising and helping various charities. I highly respect what he has been able to accomplish, which started at a young age. During high school and during the “Cans For The Poor” drive, Fadi went door to door and collected over 2,000 cans setting a school record that still stands to this day.”

Joe’s gratitude and humble demeanor is part of what makes the professional athlete sought after.  Training and travel become quite expensive and the help of sponsors in covering the cost of equipment and travel are helpful. 

With the help of his brother Fred, Joe has been training intensively for over a year to break the world record.  Working out every day he only takes one day off a month. His weekly workout schedule consists of  three days of Paddling (two days of 2-4 hour paddling and one day of long paddling 6-10 hours), three days at the gym working out for over three hours one – two days  of cross board training and swimming.

The water board pent-athlete maintains a strict diet, trying his very best to resist his mother’s Dolma.  “Like so many Chaldean mothers, my Mom is an incredible cook and when she makes Dolma, the best thing to do is to stay away, I just can’t resist the temptation.”

As of August Joe has raised over $4,000 dollars for cancer research through small donations from friends, families, and supporters.   “My goal is to reach $10,000,” he says.  Joe has partnered with the American Cancer Society to establish a website ( to help raise awareness about cancer and his efforts to break the world record.  

Supporters wishing to help find a cure for cancer can donate through via the website.  100% of the proceeds go directly to the American Cancer Society and all donations are considered a tax deductible donation. 

Joe openly invites friends, family members, and fans to cheer him on as he crosses the lake.  Groups are planning trips to Montrose Beach, in downtown Chicago to celebrate the new world-record as he crosses the Great Lake.  “Those unable to be there can always help with cancer awareness in their own special way,” says Joe.   

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Mother of God Church, MI USA


Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church
25585 Berg Road
Southfield, MI 48033
Tel: (248) 356-0565
Fax: (248) 356-5235

Founding Pastor:
Msgr. Geroge Garmo in 1972
The current church building
was completed in 1980.

Rev.  Manuel Yousif Boji

Parochial Vicar:
Rev. Wisam Matti

Daily:  10:00 AM Chaldean
Tuesdays:  5:30 PM Chaldean/English 
Saturdays:  Ramsha 4:45-5:20 PM; Mass 5:30 PM Chaldean   
Sundays:  8:30 AM Arabic, 10:00 AM English, 12:00 PM Chaldean

 1st Friday, Sodality Prayers 11 AM – 12 PM
1st Saturday, Immaculate Heart Sodality Prayers 4:00 PM

Mother of God Guardian Angels

Communion & Catechism School
Chaldean Language School
Hall Rental
Wedding Services
Baptism Services
Funeral Services

Monday: Family Bible Study 8:00 P.M. Upper Hall
Friday: Young Adult English Bible Study 7:30 P.M. Lower Hall
Wednesday: Young Adult Arabic Bible Study 7:30 P.M. Lower Hall
Prayer Groups
Our Lady Social
Ur of the Chaldees
Knights of Columbus
Mass Servers
Youth Choir
Adult Choir
Family Fun Friday
Friday Friends
Communications Ministry
Chaldean Teens Coming Together
Performance Ministry
Gift Store
Library and Research
Social Ministry & Support
Chaldean Language Classes
Fishers of Men

 Rev. Manuel Yousif Boji

Fr. Manuel was born in Telkaif in the suburbs of Nineveh, Iraq in 1946.   Reverend Manuel Boji entered the Chaldean Seminary in Mousl in 1958 and was ordained a priest in Baghdad in 1968.  His first assignment was in Telkaif where he served for 19 years.  In July 1987, Fr. Manuel was assigned  to the United States  where he assisted Mar Addai Parish in Oak Park, Michigan for six months.  From March 1988 until April 1990, he was administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Detroit, Michigan.  Fr. Manuel completed his Masters and Doctorate work from both U of D Mercy and Wayne State University while assigned to the United States.  In May 1990, Fr. Manuel was assigned to Mother of God Parish and is currently serving there as Rector of the Cathedral. 

Parochial Vicar: Rev. Wisam Matti

Fr. Wisam was born in Basrah, Iraq on October 30, 1971. Completing his education in Iraq and serving in the military Fr. Wisam then entered the Chaldean Seminary in Baghdad in 1984.  He was ordained a priest in Karemlees a suburb of Nineveh on July 4th 1997.  His first assignment was in Mosul where he served for five years.  On January 21, 2002, Fr. Wisam was transferred to the Unites States and was assigned to Mother of God Parish where he is currently serving as parochial vicar.  Fr. Wisam, earned his Master in Pastoral Theology on April 28, 2007 from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.