Setting sail for a good cause: United Way event raises more than $10,000 with Yak-Coe event

STAFF REPORT

More than 100 kayaks and canoes launched into the waters of Cedar Creek Lake Friday afternoon in Lincoln County to help raise money for Heart of Kentucky United Way.

Stephanie Blevins, director of the KHUW, said the second installment of the Yak-Coe Adventure Quest kayak and canoe scavenger hunt was even more successful than the first. Last year’s inaugural event brought more than 60 kayak and canoe paddlers to the lake, and this year saw that number grow, according to Blevins.

This year’s fundraiser brought in more than $10,270 as of press time Monday, and a total of 104 people paddled Friday afternoon.

Blevins and her husband enjoy kayaking as a hobby, like many people have discovered. “But there’s not many outlets, other than just for personal fun,” she said. That’s why she came up with the idea of a fundraiser scavenger hunt for other paddlers.

One of the paddlers was Joeann Bright of Lincoln County, who took part last year at age 90, and returned this year at the age of 91, making her the oldest participant. Last year, Bright said she had been whitewater rafting and ziplining, so she wanted to “try out the new adventure” of kayaking. She had so much fun last year that she returned again this year.

“It’s just absolutely wonderful,” Bright said after last year’s event.

Blevins said HKUW needs to continue raising money to fund its programs that serve residents of Boyle, Lincoln, Garrard, and Mercer counties, even during the COVID-19 restrictions, which makes traditional fundraisers more challenging.

“We are still seeing a decline in donations during a time where they are needed more than ever. We will continue to get the word out on how proving funding and investing in our communities truly changes lives. We are getting an enormous increase in individuals and families facing or experiencing homelessness. We continue to receive calls from people who are unable to meet their basic needs. We anticipate a growing need for our most vulnerable populations, children and seniors, who have been isolated,” Blevins said.

And HKUW “will continue to work with our community partners to ensure we are doing all we can to give opportunities to those who need a hand up, a warm meal and a safe place to live,” she added.