Whitley County’s upcoming Third Annual Kayaking for Kids race is looking to increase its participation rate by almost 10-fold compared to the turnout for the inaugural event in 2017 in addition to raising way more money, which will go to help local youth basketball programs and elementary school family resource centers.
In 2017 about 30 people took part in the kayak and jon boat race, and last year that number jumped to about 100 people. Organizer Amber Owens is looking to have about 300 participants at this year’s race, which is set for Saturday, Aug. 3.
“We have lots of really good prizes, and we actually have lots of entries into the costume contest this year. They are getting pretty competitive with it. We have a nice little gift for the winner of the costume contest,” Owens noted. “It is going to be a fun day on the river.”
Last year’s event generated a little over $6,400, which enabled representatives of the Whitley County Fiscal Court and Whitley County Tourism to donate $1,100 each to Williamsburg and Corbin Upward basketball programs. This was enough to provide 25 scholarships for each program, which went to children, whose parents couldn’t afford the participation fee.
Officials divided up the remainder of the funding between local elementary school family resource centers throughout Whitley County, Williamsburg and Corbin.
“Our fundraising has been unbelievable this year. What we have on hand doesn’t even take into account what we will get registration wise. We are looking to make quite a large increase to each school. We were able to give each school about $500 last year. This year we will more than double that,” Owens said.
“Our goal was to get about $10,000 off sponsorships and we have exceeded that by about $3,000-$4,000. Whatever we make off registration fees all of it goes back to the schools and Upward Basketball.”
By comparison, after the event’s inaugural year, organizers were able to give each school about $150, plus make the donations to Upward Basketball programs.
Owens added that everybody needs to keep an eye on the Whitley County Fiscal Court’s Facebook page for more information about the event.
“There is an event on Facebook for the kayak race. Hopefully we are going to have some surprises coming up for everyone in the form of promotion videos. We have some special guests that might make some appearances,” she added.
The entry fee for the race is $30.
The race will start at the Ballard Ford East river access point, which is near Exit 15, and conclude at the Red Bird boat ramp about 2.5 miles down stream.
Registration starts at 8 a.m. on Aug. 3, and the race begins at 10 a.m.
Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Prewitt will be cooking barbecue for all the participants at the finish line.
There will be prizes for winners. Free t-shirts and goodie bags will be given out as long as they last.
Life jackets must be worn during the entire race.
Don’t have a kayak but you still want to participate? Don’t worry.
Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort has tandem canoes, tandem kayaks and solo kayaks available for rent. This includes paddles and personal flotation devices.
Boats will be at Ballard Ford on the morning of the race available for rent, but Sheltowee Trace recommends reserving one ahead of time to ensure you get the boat or type of boat you want.
The boat rental cost is $20 per person, plus an additional $10 per boat for solo boaters.
To pay for a boat rental ahead of time, log onto https://www.ky-rafting.com/kayaking-for-kids.html.
There will be a shuttle available between Ballard Ford and Red Bird boat ramp the morning of the race.
Owens said that those renting kayaks need to be a Redbird between 8 – 8:30 a.m., leave their car there, and catch the shuttle back to Ballard Ford.
Those with jon boats or their own kayaks need to be at Ballard Ford between 8 – 8:30 a.m., drop off their kayak or boat, and then take their car to Redbird to catch the second shuttle back to Ballard Ford.
Organizers are already looking for ways to grow the event for next year.
Owens noted that organizers are planning to do some different things with video from this year’s race, including hiring someone to shoot some video on the ground and maybe from one of the kayaks going down the river.
“We will have some nice tourism type promotions that we can put together,” she added.
Contact Owens at (606) 549-6000 for questions or to register.