Row, Row, Row Your Boat (for kids)

 

Teams of rowers battled it out on Telford Lake to raise money for the Stollery Children's Hospital at the 7th Annual Row For Kids.
 
The seventh annual Row For Kids event took place under beautiful blue skies on Telford Lake, Saturday September 8th. With all the teams making a splash on the water, and hundreds of supporters and general public checking out the action on this gorgeous fall-like day, the event was a success all the way around.
Row For Kids is a joint fundraiser for the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation and the Edmonton Rowing Club, with the Stollery receiving 75% of the funds raised and the ERC receiving 25%. This fundraiser is organized in partnership between PCL Construction Management Inc. and Golder Associates Ltd.. 
The Row For Kids event was originally conceived and founded by Scott Matheson from PCL. "I actually had the idea eight years ago but it took a year to get it off the ground." shared Scott. "Being a rower myself for the last 35 years, I was looking for a way to get the public involved in what is typically viewed as an 'elite' sport. Plus, with the Stollery being near and dear to the hearts of everyone at PCL, as Bob Stollery was our CEO, I felt it was a pretty good match. There are lots of fundraising runs and walks, but nothing like this. And over the years, PCL has been a huge supporter and donated over $70,000.00 to the Row For Kids organization."
Scott also stated that one of the most important aspects to the success of this fundraiser, were the corporate sponsorships that covered the "behind the scenes" costs, such as the donation of the massive tent that covered the lunch area, donations that covered the cost of the BBQ lunch itself, a PA system for announcing the races, and so much more. This enables the Row For Kids organization to donate all of the money they raise directly to the Stollery and ERC.
The competing teams themselves are comprised of eight rowers and a coxswain. There must be a mix of genders on the team, and in order to compete, the teams must raise a minimum of $1600.00 to enter. An added incentive is that for every extra $1000.00 raised a team will have three seconds taken off their race time, up to a total of thirty seconds. With fifteen teams entered this year, of all ages and abilities, it is easy to see how some extra fundraising could make all the difference at the finish line! 
Once in the boats, racers give everything they've got to power down 750 meters of lake to the finish line. Surprisingly, no experience is needed to take part in this race, which is a good thing, as Scott shared that most of the folks entering this event had never rowed before in their life! So provided with their entry fee, everyone receives ten weeks of training with the Edmonton Rowing Club. 
The ERC also provided all the boats, water safety gear and personnel, and officials for the day's races. The donations that they receive from this event go towards their youth rowing programs.
Lisa Zederayko, one of the organizers from Golder Associates Ltd., stated that, "Hands down, this is such an easy and fun fundraiser/regatta. It's totally different from any sort of gala or dinner. It's a kid and dog friendly event with a team mentality and camaraderie to it. Plus, it supports a truly worthy cause. I think everyone knows someone who's child has been at the Stollery."  
Teams consisted of everything from company teams, to family members, friends, and in some cases, complete strangers that wanted to take part in this fun event and signed up to fill holes in existing teams that didn't have enough people. Truly a combined community effort. Some teams showed their spirit with matching jerseys, for one team the required wear was any sort of funny hat, and there was even a team from the Stollery Hospital itself, made up of doctors, nurses and technicians that called themselves "The Kids In The Hall".
Aside from the action on the water, there were also many activities to keep the young, and young at heart, entertained on dry land. With challenging games set up such as trying to throw a football through a very small opening in a wooden stand, to a bouncy house for the wee ones, to face painting for all ages, a balloon artist, the Stollery Bear mascot was on hand, and with a fabulous BBQ lunch, there was no lack of things going on to tempt each of the senses and keep one and all busy for the afternoon.
At the end of the day awards were handed out to the winning teams, but the biggest winners, by far, were the Stollery and the ERC. After everything was totaled up, the Row For Kids event had raised a staggering $130,400.00! 
So even though the official Row For Kids races are over for this year, you can still check out their website at www.rowforkids.com to make a donation to this great event, or plan to put together your own team and make a splash on Telford Lake yourself next year! 
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