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Commentary: When It Comes To Charities, Organizers Haven’t Cancelled

Most organized go-fast boating events raise money for charity. So when they get called off, as most have this year, the charities lose out, right?

Despite cancellations totally beyond their control, event organizers continued their charitable efforts. Photo from the 2019 Boyne Thunder Poker Run by Pete Boden of Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Not necessarily.

Consider the 2020 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival. When organizer Lucy Nicandri was left with no choice but to pull the plug in light of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, she immediately began working on a plan to compensate for what would have been a $100,000-plus fundraising loss for Suncoast Charities For Children, the nonprofit organization in part supported by the weeklong happening. Nicandri reached out to other caring, can-do members of the Southwest Florida community and together they organized the first Blast On The Bay Fun Run.

The run raised $50,000 for the nonprofit organization. Given her upcoming events this year, Nicandri is confident they will make up the shortfall.

Added bonus? Even on a sweltering day, the 120-boat fun run was so well-received and supported that Nicandri and company are planning on bringing it back next year as part of the festival.

Boyne Thunder Poker Run organizer Bob Alger and his committee, as well as Kelsie King-Duff, the executive director of Boyne City Main Street, could have gone silent after they were forced to cancel the 17th annual Northern Michigan event. Instead, they kept their charity drive going. And thanks to 43 different sponsors and participants raised $50,000 for the multiple local charities their event supports.

Though he was forced to cancel the upcoming September 18-20 Oneida Lake Chicken Wing Run in Upstate New York, organizer Ron Forbus hasn’t given up on raising money for local first-responders.

“We are going to set up an online store with some funny shirts to try and raise money for our charities to keep them rolling,” he said. “I also will be announcing the results of last year’s donations—I always save that right before the next year. I have some video work to do on that, but we had a record fundraising year in 2019.”

Last November, the Speedonthewater.com/Offshoreonly.com Key West Bash raised $42,000 for Samuel’s House, a safe haven for women, children and intact families in the city at the end of the road. Given that Race World Offshore cancelled its concurrent Key West Championships and that the Florida Powerboat Club has significantly scaled back plans for its concurrent Key West Poker Run, it seems unlikely that the city would embrace a 2,000- to 3,000-person, shoulder-to-shoulder celebration inside and outside at the Sandbar Sports Grill on Greene Street. So our party will have to return next year.

But inspired by our fellow event organizers, we’ll find a way to serve Samuel’s House this year and come back even stronger 2021.

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Rangoonwala Foundation Boosts Sarasota Blast On The Bay Fundraising To $50,000
Cancelled Boyne Thunder Poker Run Still Raises More Than $50,000 For Charities
Go-Fast Boating Charity Starts At Home—Even If It Has To Stay There