On Friday, March 13th, all of 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 that Laguna Beach local Norman Rest found himself pondering his role and purpose here on earth.

With Hoag Hospital standing tall in his field of vision, Norman was reminded of his wife Debra’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, Norman 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, Debra felt peace in this decision that a dream she paved over a decade ago would finally be realized.

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

Lido Paddle Project is a gift to society borne out of COVID-19. The organization is here to uplift our leaders, heal our healers, protect our protectors, and turn the focus back to health and immunity. It has begun serving first responders and veterans with operations in Newport Beach, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach.

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

Norman’s 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 led Norman to Laguna Beach to pioneer building into our cliffs and mountains.

After being a teenage “treehouse master,” Norman, at 21, set out to build a three-story home for his young family. This Top of the World property, completed in 1971, launched Norman into an illustrious lifelong career of building, several on Old Top of the World Laguna Beach, shortly followed by larger developments throughout Orange County. Today, his projects and properties are visible in many regions, states, and a few countries, too.

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

Co-founder Debra Kottke lives life fearlessly and fully – a brilliant force of nature to all who know her.

This world traveler, real estate investor, and joyful adventurer 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.

Barnard Court Home 

It was Debra who inspired Norman 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.

Debra grew up in the Midwest with a wholesome 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, Debra 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 Debra intrigued and fulfilled when she is not focused on her successful business as an independent court deposition reporter.

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, this Laguna Beach-based nonprofit’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. 


Board Member Brooke Bergman Parr 

The founding board of Lido Paddle Project includes Laguna Beach community leaders: Ron Pringle, Heather George, Brooke Bergman Parr, Matthew McCulloch, and Monique Brown.

The team at Lido Paddle Project, along with a creative event committee, is planning its first hybrid fundraiser, aptly entitled “Stand Up With Us,” on March 27. Live attendance will be quite limited; however, all can participate online for only $5. To learn more or get involved, visit www.lidopaddleproject.org or contact Laguna Beach’s Chief Development Officer Michelle Highberg at michelle@lidopaddleproject.org or (949) 813-7681.