Paddlers taking to the river is not an unusual sight in West Montrose. Next weekend, they’ll be there for a cause.
For a third year, the Grand Kayak event will raise money for the Grand River Hospital Foundation. This year’s outing is set for May 7.
Event participants will kayak, canoe or paddle board down the Grand River, choosing either the 46-kilometre, eight-hour journey or a leisurely four-hour afternoon paddle.
The long course will begin from Wilson’s Flats located at #4-6285 8 Line W, West Montrose at 8 a.m., while the short course will begin at Kaufman Flats located 546 Woolwich Pl., Waterloo at 12 p.m. Both courses finish at Grand River Hospital’s Freeport Campus (Freeport Bridge).
The fundraiser was the brainchild of Dr. Neil Naik, an avid kayaker who was looking for a way to give back to the community that he’s called home for the past seven years.
“[I thought] let’s use the namesake of Grand River Hospital, the Grand River, and go for the entire region that the hospital serves – just south of Elora and going all the way down to Freeport. It was really nice to end up at Freeport campus, and bring awareness to what the foundation does.”
Even as a physician, he says he was surprised at how much of the hospitals’ equipment relies on donated money rather than government funding.
“So as we’re embarking on building a new hospital, let’s build awareness that we need the community to rally together,” he said of fundraiser efforts such as Grand Kayak.
The event itself is starting to catch on: from just a couple of people taking part initially, there are already 10 teams registered this year, said Naik.
“We are thrilled that our community is supporting the hospital with Grand Kayak again this year. The event is not only a lot of fun but also supports a great cause,” said Paul Amaral, director of community partnerships & entertainment with Grand River Hospital Foundation, in a release announcing the event. “Participants will have the opportunity to spend time being active outdoors while raising funds to support the vision of a world class health system for our community. It’s a win-win!”
The fundraiser is in support of the foundation’s ‘Care Never Stops Campaign,’ a six-year, $258-million comprehensive fundraising campaign launched three years ago.
Those taking part in the event can choose to target the funds they raise to specific areas of the hospitals’ operations: cancer care, continuum of care, emergency & critical care, Grand River kids, kidney care, learning + innovation, mental health or patient experience.
More information and registration details can be found online at www.GrandKayak.ca. For participants who do not have their own, canoe and kayak rentals are available from Canoeing The Grand and include an exclusive 50 per cent discount. Reservations can be made by contacting owner Shelly Jo Holmes at (519) 896-0290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.