Summer Of Giving

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A remarkable 15-year-old performance-boating fan, Tanner Howard (right) inspired the inaugural Memorial Fun Run on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. Photo by Jacob Davis/Lake Life Fotos

Using the Memorial and Labor Day weekends as starting and ending points, we’re a little more than halfway through the summer boating season, at least as far as organized events with significant charitable components go. And what an amazing season it’s been so far.

Consider this:

  • Inspired by an inspiring 15-year-old named Tanner Howard, in honor of Art and Melissa McMahan and Anthony and Tammy Reece, the inaugural Memorial Fun Run on Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland raised almost $7,000 for the Jamestown Fire Department’s Lake Cumberland dive and rescue team.
  • Spearheaded by big-hearted performance boating community member Greg Harris, the Jacksonville River Rally and Fun Run raised $11,500 for Camp Amigo, a nonprofit North Florida organization that provides a week-long summer camping experience for kids recovering from the emotional and physical scars of severe burn injuries.
  • Headed by Bob Veith and a dedicated organizing committee, the Virginia-based Powerboating for A Cure Poker Run raised $40,400 for the nonprofit Susan G. Komen breast cancer awareness and research organization and $5,000 for the Associated General Contractors of Virginia Scholarship Fund.
  • Organized by Performance Boat Center and backed by almost 20 sponsors including Poly Lift Boat Lifts and Sunsation Boats, the Support Our Troops Poker Run on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri raised $29,000 for H.E.R.O.E.S. veterans support charity.
  • Produced by a dynamo named Stephanie Amaker, the Lake Murray Poker Run for Children’s Chance raised $45,000-plus for the nonprofit South Carolina-based pediatric cancer organization.

The Powerboating For A Cure Poker Run raised a combined $45,000 for two charities. Photo by Chuck Guthrie and John Ainslie.

Of course, there have been more—as in many—go-fast boating events benefiting worthy charities so far this summer. The list above is not intended to be comprehensive. It’s just a sampling.

The list leaves out, for example, all the powerboat owners in New Jersey who gave rides to wounded veterans during the Atlantic City Powerboat Rally and to physically and mentally challenged children and adults during the annual Shore Dreams for Kids event. It doesn’t count—because the final count isn’t in—the big money reportedly raised by Northern Michigan’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run for its Camp Quality and Challenge Mountain charities.

All apologies and thanks to, as well as endless respect and admiration for, the giving people involved with the charity-drive events not mentioned here.

Why focus so intently on the charitable side of the go-fast boating community? Because most folks outside that community don’t see or hear about it. They just see fast, colorful boats and characters who blow into town for summer weekend events and then make assumptions, too often less than positive, from there.

By the end of summer 2017, the list of worthy causes served by this community will be even more extensive. That’s a fact. And if the remarkable events just halfway through are anything to go by, it will be something to cheer.

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Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.

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