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Make-A-Wish Rides And The 1,000 Islands Breakfast Club

Between long days on the water and reunions of long-lost go-fast boating friends that often last late into the evening, poker runs don’t lend themselves to early wake-up calls. And yet there we were today at 7 a.m., on the docks of the municipal marina in Clayton, N.Y., and getting three catamarans ready for a 45-minute run to Tin Pan Galley, a hot little breakfast spot on shores of Lake Ontario in Sacket Harbor.

Powerboat rides for Make-A-Wish of Central New York program kids and their family members were the highlights of the day at the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

The breakfast run was the brainchild of Ken Lalonde, the Upstate New York owner of a DCB Performance Boats M37R Widebody catamaran color-matched to his Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats 390 Sport center console and one of the organizers of this weekend’s 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in Clayton. So the early departure, which turned out to be more like 7:45 a.m. as the walking wounded shambled their way to the boats, was a must for Lalonde as he needed to be back in time for today’s powerboat rides for Make-A-Wish children and their families.

With some 90 rides to give, Lalonde couldn’t afford to be late.

Lalonde was joined in his 37-footer by event first-timers Jeff Johnston and Tony Chiaramonte of DCB, who came all the way from their Southern California headquarters to be part of the event. A couple of MTI catamarans—a 390X owned by Missouri’s Scott Kottmann and his father, Greg, and a 340X owned by Bill Eastman of New York rounded out the three-boat fleet.

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Powerboat drivers used their catamarans and center consoles today to provide almost 100 boat rides to Make-A-Wish children and their family members.

That the St. Lawrence River was a sheet of glass surprised no one. Mornings often are like that here. But the mellow conditions that persisted on Lake Huron all the way to Sacket Harbor surprised everyone.

“We should all be thankful for getting here so easily,” said Devin Wozencraft, who joined Kottmann and two additional passengers in the 39-foot cat, as they arrived in Sacket Harbor. “Lake Ontario is almost never this calm.”

Wozencraft has been to the 1,000 Islands area several times. But for Kottmann—who lives in St. Louis and does most of his boating on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri—this weekend is his first visit to the famed waterway.

“It’s a little intimidating,” he told one of his passengers during the Lake Ontario portion of the run, then laughed. “I’m not used to looking out over the water and not seeing any land.”

That was the first of two novel experiences for the Missourian, who represents Wozencraft Insurance at the Lake of the Ozarks. The second was taking Make-A-Wish kids and members of their families for rides after he returned to Clayton in his 39-footer.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “Giving rides to those children put a smile on my face.”

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Scenes from this morning’s Ken Lalonde-organized breakfast run to Sacket Harbor.

Giving rides to Make-A-Wish members and their loved ones also happened to be a first today for Kottmann’s fellow Missourian and boat-builder Randy Scism, the owner and founder of MTI. And running a new MTI-V 50 luxury performance center console, he didn’t lack space for passengers.

“This is why we’re here,” he said. “It’s already the highlight of the trip.”

That was saying something for Scism, as he and his wife, Cherell, and MTI sales manager Tom Stuart enjoyed the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run event in 2018 and loved every aspect of it.

Such an immediately strong response to the event’s Make-A-Wish boat ride tradition is far from uncommon according to Bobby Cantwell, one of the event’s founders and organizers.

“The boat rides for Make-A-Wish kids are always the highlight for me and a lot of our participants.,” he said. “This is what our event is all about.”

Said MTI 390X catamaran owner Scott Kottmann (seated and captured here after the morning breakfast run), “Giving rides to those children really put a smile on my face.”

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