Whitley County’s Second Annual Kayaking for Kids Kayak Race Saturday featured nearly four times as many participants and raised more than twice as much money for charity as did last year’s race.
This year’s race had 98 participants, featured 71 kayaks or jon boats and raised $6,617 for charity compared with last year’s race, which featured 26 participants and raised about $3,200 for charity.
“It is a big crowd. We had several sign up this morning so it is a bit more than we expected,” Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. said Saturday morning before the start of the race.
“We are about triple the boat number of last year. The event is really growing. We hope to continue to see this event grow and prosper. We hope to continue promoting our river as a tourism asset, but also helping the kids in our county.”
White, who entered the race in a jon boat along with his two oldest sons, said he thinks the event will continue to grow in coming years.
“I think one of the primary reasons is, it is fun, and it is for a good cause. Hopefully everybody here will have as good a time as we did last year, and they will want to come back,” he added.
White said the county has tried to grow outdoor tourism opportunities by growing and building river access points and boat ramps for the past several years.
“The county has three that are open to the public and a fourth one that we would like to have open soon. The city of Williamsburg maintains one by the courthouse and the Army Corps of Engineers has one that will be the finish line here today at Red Bird Bridge,” White said.
“We are trying to grow those opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Certainly since we have started doing this event and bringing it to the public’s attention, you have seen the river traffic pick up quite a bit. Quite often when you cross one of the bridges in Whitley County now you will see boats floating and enjoying the river.”
The river access points that the county has are located at the intersection of Highway 92 and Highway 904, Ballard Ford East, and Croley Bend.
The county is currently working to build a fourth river access point near the county fair grounds at Savoy. While it is on the Clear Fork River, the access point is only a couple hundred yards from the confluence where the Clear Fork River meets the Cumberland River.
Proceeds from the race will provide 25 Upward basketball scholarships for children in Corbin and 25 Upward basketball scholarships for children in Williamsburg.
The remainder of the funding will be divided evenly between family resource centers in Williamsburg, Whitley County and Corbin.
This year’s goal was $5,000.
In the kayaking race, Ben Prewitt took first place with a time of 31:02. He received a dry bag backpack as the first place prize.
Jeremiah Morgan took second place with a time of 32:55, and Ronnie Bowling Jr. took third place with a time of 33:21.
In the jon boat division, Tommy Bowlin, Griffin Bates, Mya Morgan, Hadley Morgan and Blake Bowlin took first place with a time of 46:00. They received a gift card from Bass Pro.
Ralph Carte, Channing Carte and Larriuce Felipe took second place with a time of 46:21. Stacey Rains, Stella Varro and Chaz Frazier took third place with a time of 52:35.
The race route was about 2.5 miles in length.