My first event/blog of the season! I wanted to give a special shout out to Alexander Toth for organizing the first ever Jackson Kayak and Zoar Outdoor Dryway Kickoff Event. The event was awesome, we had games, clinics, boat demos, a BBQ and a great documentary film. It was also a fundraiser for First Descents and holy cow what a great fundraiser it was. We raised over $1800 bucks for First Descents an awesome organization that helps empower folks that are struggling with cancer to reclaim a fun portion of life by challenging them with outdoor pursuits. They are “Out Living It”.
I started planning the event with Alex Toth and all the New England regional team paddlers back near the start of winter when Emily Jackson shot an email out to the regional teams to try and host some grassroots events around the country on behalf of Jackson Kayak. I was so glad when Alex stepped up to take charge of organizing the event through the winter despite his busy traveling schedule. He did a great job to obtain sponsorships and to have prizes for a silent auction that would raise the majority of money for First Descents. Thanks to all the sponsors that helped out and special thanks to Jackson Kayak for donating a Jackson Karma Unlimited to the event.
I’m also supper thankful Zoar Outdoor wanted to partner with Jackson Kayak to make this first event a success. For a while I’ve been thinking it would be really cool to have an event at the first release. The first Dryway releases signal the real start of summer for me. I bunker down into teaching and paddling mode big time.
The event was great, a rare chance for regional Jackson Kayak team paddlers to get to know each other better, plus we got to do what we love, go paddle and be social with those on the river. We had two mini clinics; “The David’s” David Su and David Silk taught a playboating clinic, and Alex and I ran a creeking clinic. Zoar Outdoor helpers Keith Reinemann and Katelyn Green helped with the 20 or so free Jackson Kayak demos and Sandi Krauss helped with shuttle rides for those demoing boats and par-taking in clinics.
In the evening Zoar Outdoor hosted the official First Descents Fundraiser Party. We closed the bidding wars on the silent auction and showed a screening of their documentary film “Out Living IT”. The film was really moving, a great representation of the program that they offer to young adults facing cancer. I’ve been involved with four separate weeks of First Descents programs and it has really affected me personally. They are really great folks and I’ve seen and heard about so many of their ups and downs. In the past two years two of the participants that I taught and paddled with died unfairly due to cancer. One of my favorite things about First Descents is how supportive the group can be and how they continue that friendship well after the week is gone. They are their for each other and challenge each other in a way that folks without cancer can not do. It is amazing what the mental fortitude and health that this program brings to these folks can do.
First Dryway Release = First Lozer Cup Series Race. Oh how I miss my New England paddling friends. The race goes off and I immediately spin my cohort Ben Natusch sideways to the oncoming crowd (shenanigans). Pretty much insuring we will both be losers which I think is the goal. However it is a race so I had to stop messing with him and get onto racing. I expanded a lot of energy in the start of the race to make up for the silly start and fight my way through the sea of short retro and creek boats. I kept expecting someone to ram my stern and send me flying out of control into an eddy, but polite taps were all I got as we all pushed downstream. There was much jockeying for position throughout the race, I think Justin and I changed spots like four times. I was so close to passing Alex Toth multiple times but he kept up good defense and I didn’t want to spin him out that far into the race, so I would just give him some stern taps here and there for good fun. In the end I took fifth place I think, but who’s counting in the Lozer Cup Series and where was that Kenny guy anyway. Good race everyone and a great weekend!