A Protection Island team is among the top fundraisers for the Silly Boat Regatta, and hopes to top the podium, too.
The annual charity event, which takes place Sunday, July 15, at Maffeo Sutton Park, sees businesses, organizations and other groups of people building boats from recycled materials and racing against one another. Money raised goes to the Nanaimo Child Development Centre, and as of Tuesday, the Protection Island Lions Club team, Soggy Bottoms 4Kids, has raised more than $8,200, which Michelle Kocourek, centre resource development coordinator and regatta organizer, said is the most among service groups.
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Brenda Thompson, Soggy Bottoms 4Kids team captain, said the team is playing to win, too.
“The goal is to make a lot of money for the child development centre, which we’ve done, and the other goal is to win,” said Thompson. “We’re in it to win it … these boats are fast, they’re light, they’re fast and we’ve got some nice paddlers.”
Thompson said the team is determined.
“We like to have fun and we like to be silly, but we’re serious about being silly,” she said.
Thompson and many Protection Islanders feel gratitude to the centre.
“They helped my grandson out immensely. He had a speech delay problem and it’s really hard to communicate if you can’t talk, so they worked with us and they worked with him and after a couple of years we were kind of sorry,” Thompson said with a laugh, joking that her grandson now talks a lot. “But I don’t think there’s a person here on [Protection] Island who hasn’t had a relative … or who doesn’t know somebody who’s been helped by the child development centre.”
Thompson said her team’s vessel is made of two pieces of old flotation from the Dinghy Dock Pub, lumber and bolts.
Soggy Bottoms 4Kids’ vessel has been christened Jerry’s Spirit after the late Jerry Howell, a former downtown Nanaimo bookstore owner, who Thompson said was very involved with kids on Protection Island. A golf cart wash and music event at the Dinghy Dock were among the fundraising efforts, according to Thompson.
Races begin at 1 p.m. Sunday and Kocourek said there are 56 spots available and still time for people to sign up.
“We have 33 teams. There’s still room for more. If anybody wants to join us, we take right up to the last minute for teams as long as we’ve got room,” said Kocourek.
For more information, please go to www.sillyboat.com.