Kayak/canoe event will help ‘shore up’ United Way services

The second annual kayak/canoe fundraising event later this month will help “shore up” funding for Heart of Kentucky United Way, which had taken a dive during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“We would love to see this event grow into the largest campaign we have all year,” said HKUW Executive Director Stephanie Blevins. “This is the third fun-fundraiser we host each year.” However, “They do not take the place of the many industry campaigns we held,” before the pandemic interrupted the workplace and economy in 2020 and early 2021, Blevins explained.

“We are still seeing a decline in donations during a time where they are needed more than ever. We will continue to get the word out on how proving funding and investing in our communities truly changes lives.”

“We are getting an enormous increase in individuals and families facing or experiencing homelessness. We continue to receive calls from people who are unable to meet their basic needs. We anticipate a growing need for our must vulnerable populations, children and seniors, who have been isolated,” Blevins said.

And HKUW “will continue to work with our community partners to ensure we are doing all we can to give opportunities to those who need a hand up, a warm meal and a safe place to live,” she added.

And as United Way industry campaigns rebound, the fun-fundraisers are helping to keep its programs and services afloat. “We have been so humbled by the support of local businesses who continue to sponsor events (such as YAQ) because they know it is needed to create a better place to live and work,” Blevins said.

The YAQ is scheduled for Friday, July 23 at Cedar Creek Lake, just outside of Stanford on Old U.S. 150 at dock #2. You may bring your own kayak or canoe or rent one for $15. Entry fee is $30 per person and registration is required. Those who register prior to July 9 are guaranteed the size T-shirt they requested. Registration will be open until all spots are filled.

You may register at www.hkuw.org

All entry fees benefit HKUW which serve residents in Boyle, Lincoln, Garrard and Mercer counties.

Each person registered will receive a T-shirt, water towel, sunglasses, lunch and a few other surprises, Blevins said.

And you don’t have to be an experienced boater to compete in the event. “You can paddle as far or near as you would like. You can search for all 15 ‘treasure stops’ or just paddle in a circle for the fun of being out on the water.”

The gist of the quest is for boaters to use a treasure map to locate “treasure stops” on the lake and collect a sticker at each stop. Every sticker earns the paddler a ticket.

“The treasure hunt portion is a timed event, which adds some excitement to the day,” Blevins said. “Who doesn’t love to search for treasure?

In addition there will be a duck pond and Blast Cove areas where extra tickets can be earned.

The duck pond will be a “huge floating duck filled with little rubber ducks. Rescue (bring back) a little duck and get an extra ticket,” Blevins said.

In Blast Cove, located next to the ramp, paddlers can use floating pool noodle water guns and aim at floating targets to win an extra ticket for every one hit.

Plus there will be a hidden ‘treasure chest” for the lucky person who finds it. “I’ve already been offered a bribe to share where the treasure chest will be located, but we are not giving out any hints.”

At the end of the designated time, paddlers will collect all of their earned tickets and place them in a container on any prize they want a chance at winning. Winners of each prize will be drawn from the collected tickets.

Even though the pandemic halted most events last summer, the YAQ sailed on because it was outside, and the limited number of participants were distanced. Blevins said 55 people participated last year. They even traveled from three states and up to three hours to get her, she added.

“YAQ is a great way to make a difference in our communities while having fun. We encourage businesses and groups to come out, support our communities, and use the day as a team building activity.”

The YAQ, “Should be a fun event that benefits serious matters.”