Pinellas kayak business offers free rentals to first responders


PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – With Mary Jo and Jimmy Monbarren’s business on hold, they figured the right thing to do would be to help those on the front line of the COVID-19 situation.

The couple owns Sandy Feet Mobile Kayak Rental and through April 18, first responders can take out one of their kayaks at no charge.


  • Florida is reporting 85,926 cases and 3,061 deaths
  • Florida in Phase Two of reopening
  • Cases have spiked in past week, Gov. DeSantis says due to increased testing

“My husband and I are just like, ‘this is what we can do,'” said Mary Jo. “Instead of them sitting, let’s just give free rentals to all first responders.”

Howard Hirschfield owns the Stat One Urgent Care Center in Seminole and is a former first responder. He believes this type of activity is just what the doctor ordered for those on the front line.

“It just gets your mind off of that, that total committment when they are in the hospital, especially the emergency room and ICU units,” said Hirschfield. “It gives them a little respite to get away from that even if it’s for a short time and recharge. “

After Governor Ron Desantis enacted the statewide “Safer at Home” order, Pinellas County leaders interpreted the order to indicate kayak shops as a non-essential business and therefore should be closed.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says the order isn’t really open to interpretation.

“So what the governor said is here are essential services. Here are essential activities. You can leave your home to engage in these services or activities,” said Sheriff Gualtieri. “If it’s not on the list of yes, then it’s automatically a no.”

Monbarren says she’s had to cancel reservations and offer refunds to customers. The situation is killing the small business.

“This pays for everything,” Monbarren said, pointing at the trailer filled with kayaks. “This pays for my rent, for our food, for our truck, this is our life, this is our business right here.”

For more information on the free rental for first responders, you can log on to the company’s website.


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