Raising a record-setting $12,754 for Camp Amigo, a Northern Florida nonprofit organization that helps children recovering from the emotional and physical scars from severe burn injuries through a weeklong outdoor camping experience, last weekend’s Jacksonville River Rally Fun Run continues to succeed. Organizers Greg Harris and Yvonne Aleman, his longtime girlfriend, haven’t just kept the event alive—they’ve revived and energized it.
Another success, the Jacksonville River Rally Fun Run will happen in May next year. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had calls from two boat manufacturers and one dealer who want to be involved next year,” said Harris, a South Florida real estate agent who owns a 32-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran called Mad Props. “I expect to have some kind of dockside display area and corporate backing next year in addition to Brand X Hi-Performance Marine, which sponsored our Friday night chicken wing party.”
This year’s event attracted 27 high-performance catamarans, V-bottoms and center consoles, with 20 of the boat owners “traveling” to the event from areas beyond Jacksonville. New Jersey-based Chris LaMorte, for example, brought his 36-foot catamaran, which he keeps in Sarasota, Fla., for the winter, to the run.
Of the total amount of money raised through the event, which included raffle items and an auction, $2,500 came from a “fellow boater,” according to Harris, who did not participate but wanted to donate to a worthy cause.
“Channel 4 in Jacksonville did two stories on the event,” he said. “We even put one of the reporters in the driver’s seat. Micheal Stancombe (of Pro Marine RC) saw one of the programs on TV and called to donate an RC boat.
“We raised $1,500 through auction items and another $600 through raffle tickets,” he continued. “The Miss GEICO team kicked in an RC boat as did Stancombe, Star-Brite contributed a gift pack, Mercury Racing sent a gift pack, Kent (Fauntleroy) of Lifeline donated a sport vest and Speed On The Water donated four Year In Review issue gift packs, which were a big hit. Going with a poker-run format this year also proved to be a success on a couple of levels. People want to do the stops and play the hands, and they want to win so they can donate their winnings to the charity. And I don’t think a single boat had a mechanical issue, which isn’t bad for a 130-mile run.”
According to Harris, Bill Pyburn, Sr., a retired firefighter who formerly was the driving force behind the Jacksonville event, personally will present a check to Camp Amigo representatives this week.
In 2019, Harris will move the event to May so that it doesn’t conflict with the annual Jacksonville Boater Skip-Day on Friday, a popular happening in the area that reportedly attracted 500-plus vessels this year and swallowed up the half-dozen Jacksonville River Rally Fun Run boats that opted in on the scorching hot afternoon on the St. Johns River.
Performance boat owners found themselves lost in the crowd during Friday’s annual Boater Skip-Day. Photo courtesy/copyright Yvonne Aleman/Speedonthewater.com.
“Weather is one factor for the date change,” said Harris. “Not wanting to conflict with Boater Skip-Day is another. Plus, we’re hoping to attract some of the boats based in Florida heading back to the Northeast for the summer before the Memorial Day weekend.”
Harris said that a new website for the event is under construction—courtesy of Aleman, who drives Mad Props while he throttles the 32-footer.
“Bill Pyburn, Sr., is my guy on the ground in Jacksonville but without Yvonne this event doesn’t happen,” he said. “She does all of the ‘back of the house’ and accounting work, which takes all of the pressure off me.”
Harris and Aleman created custom-made signs for participants who booked dock space. Photo courtesy/copyright Yvonne Aleman/Speedonthewater.com.