Cameron Benson · The Friendship Paddle 2018

Cameron Benson with Family

Cameron grew up in Woodland Hills and attended UCSB. In 1991, he met his future wife, Lisa, while working together at Piatti Restaurant in Montecito. The two quickly bonded and, after traveling together through Europe in 1992, moved to San Francisco to pursue graduate degrees. Cameron and Lisa were married in 1995 and moved back to Santa Barbara in 1996 where they have both become integral members of our community. Cameron is the Creeks Division Manager for the City of Santa Barbara and Lisa is a licensed clinical psychologist. They have two children, Josh (16) and Ella (13).

Cameron Benson on Boat

At a young age, Cameron developed a passion for the environment which deepened during his extended summer visits to his family’s cabin at Elk Lake in Pennsylvania and his many trips to the Grand Canyon among other places. After contemplating a career in education, he decided to focus his passion and energy on environmental policy, and our community is very fortunate to have him as one of our champions for the environment. In 2007, he left his role as the Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Center to take on the Creeks Division Manager role where he has been instrumental in leading efforts to protect and improve the water quality of our creeks and beaches. In addition to his professional focus on water-related issues, he spends much of his time at the beach or in the water with his family and friends including frequent trips to the Channel Islands.

Friendship Paddle 2018 - Cameron Benson

In December 2016, Cameron was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of neuroendocrine cancer. Beginning just before Christmas of 2016 and for several months into 2017, Cameron underwent chemotherapy treatments which, while significantly uncomfortable, proved successful in decreasing the size of the tumors in his colon and liver. In May 2017, he received the positive news that he was in “remission” much to his joy and that of his family and friends. Unfortunately, in October, the news came that the cancer had returned.  It was determined that the previous treatment approach would not be effective in addressing this new permutation of the cancer, so a search for alternative treatments ensued. He was subsequently approved to be a participant in a drug trial at UCLA and, after much testing and regular trips down to UCLA, this treatment was deemed effective. He is currently in remission, but this is a prolonged fight and we are focused on supporting Cameron and his family through it. The Friendship Paddle is honored to give Cameron back the positive energy that he has provided our community, and we will cross the Santa Barbara Channel in his honor on September 22.

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