A three-day combo of short jaunts based out of Key West, Fla., the Frankie Gutierrez, Jr., Memorial Fun Run produced by Keys Island Runners, a grassroots group of powerboat enthusiasts mostly located in the Florida Keys, went off without a hitch last weekend. That’s the word from Keys Island Runners founder Daniel Garcia, III.
The founder of Keys Island Runners, Daniel Garcia, III, (captured here running his 24-foot Progression sportboat) said last weekend’s Frankie Gutierrez, Jr., Memorial Fun Run was his group’s best-organized outing to date.
Garcia launched the event as a tribute to his Gutierrez, his older brother, who lost his battle with cancer and died at age 33 in 2018. Since then, the event has become one of the club’s most popular events. And this year, it raised approximately $15,000 for the Frankie Gutierrez Jr., “Above and Beyond” Memorial Fund.
“The money goes to scholarships and local families in the community who might also need help with their medical issues,” Garcia said.
Thursday’s sunset raft-up attracted 26 boats. The following day’s outing to Marvin Key for a “sandbar” hangout saw 44 boats in the mix despite tricky outgoing tides. Many of the participants, according to Garcia, were Key Island Runners event first-timers.
“We were blessed again with great weather,” he said. “All in all, it was great day and a lot of the newcomers said they really enjoyed the beauty of Marvin Key.”
The event featured a trio of daily fun runs to different destinations.
On Saturday morning, the group was greeted by sustained winds in the 17- to 20-mph range. That led some would-be participants from Key West to opt out of the run to Boca Grande. Still, some 50 to 60 boats made the trek.
Once the photo helicopter arrived, the group headed to Snipes Point for a raft-up. A large fleet from around the Florida Keys had already arrived and was waiting for the Key West group. Based on aerial photos. Garcia said there were 150 boats at Snipes Point for the afternoon. And though most participants were from the Florida Keys, several came from New Jersey, South Carolina and Pennsylvania to enjoy the weekend on the water.
“This was by far the most organized run that we’ve had as far as people following schedules and directions,” he said. “We had multiple first-time participants say to us that our event was by far the best they’ve ever been to. So that was really good to hear.”
Editor’s note: Founded in 2018, the Key Island Runners Instagram group currently has 33,500 members.
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