Genevieve Ballard, founder and owner of Cocoa Kayaking is passionate about providing safe, informative and fun family friendly eco- kayak tours in and around the Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island area. She is also passionate about giving back to her community.

Ballard, who launched her business in 2016, said she had always hoped to start a business where she could earn money doing what she loves, being around nature. She also wanted to be able to share a portion of her earnings by giving back to those in need.

“Two years ago, I decided to research ways I could help kids or organizations within my community,” Ballard said. “I thought; why not see if there was a need to help children in some way, possibly through the public school system here.”

For the past two years, Cocoa Kayaking has collaborated with several area schools as a business sponsor. Ballard said her company now takes $2.00 from every kayak tour sale and earmarks the money to be divided between more than eight local public schools each month. “The schools I donate to now use it to help pay for school lunches,” she said.

According to Doreen Carlo-Coryell, Vice Principal of Roosevelt Elementary in Cocoa Beach, Ballard’s donations are put into a school lunch fund, so that children who do not have money to buy lunch are able to purchase it. “We set up what I refer to as a “principal account”, and we use the money to avoid having our cafeteria manager going in the red,” she said. “Genevieve came to us, offering to help. She doesn’t want to see any kid left behind.”

Last year, Carlo-Coryell nominated Cocoa Kayaking to represent her school's choice for Brevard Public Schools small business partners in education (PIE) Award for 2018-2019. Ballard went on the win this award, an honor she said was due to the votes from the many schools she supports.

“Not only does Cocoa Kayaking donate to our school financially but she has donated multiple vouchers we have given to our school employees and students to award them for individual accomplishments,” she added. “We really appreciate all of Ballard’s generosity,” said Carlo-Coryell.

“I believe it is so important to help the community whenever I can. As a small business I do what I can. You never know how one small thing like feeding a child lunch can help,” said Ballard. “When our customers find out a part of the cost for their kayaking adventure is going to help pay for a child’s lunch, it seems to make their visit even more special I believe,” she added. Cocoa Kayaking offers a wide variety of tours to the Thousand Islands of Cocoa Beach, Merritt Island and the Wildlife Refuge in Titusville.

Tours include viewing manatees, bottle-nose dolphins, sunsets, rocket launches and during the spring and summer season’s bioluminescent activity and comb jelly fish.