August 28, 2008
Canoe Challenge Hopes for Local Support
The 10th annual Alafia Challenge – a recreational canoe and kayak race – is scheduled to take place this year on November 8. The all-day event, which will begin at 7 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m., is poised to be a whole lot bigger than last year. But the much anticipated adventure race as well as the before, during and after festivities may not be such a success unless organizers are first triumphant in rounding up some help.
According to Event Organizer Karen Wagner, volunteers and sponsors are a vital part of the smooth operation of the event which began in 1999. Last year, the event welcomed close to 350 peddlers who, besides peddling their way down the 11-mile lower Alafia River track, were served food and drinks along with receiving help transporting their canoes and kayaks to and from the vehicles and the water.
“We are struggling for both sponsors and volunteers,” Wagner said and explained that while normally by this time of year the program would have at least a couple of dozen volunteers, it barely has 10.
Sponsors who support the race by providing breakfast and lunch for the competitors and the visitors, and who also help with some of the other costs associated with the event, are also in short supply. With the current economic woes, many businesses that have been more than ready to support the race before, Wagner said, “May not sign-up this time.”
While the challenge’s organizers hope to receive the help needed before the race, there will be one solid entity that will be on-hand to help with a number of things. John Brill of the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department ensured all involved with the race that the county, despite cutbacks, will be on-hand to help with the challenge.
“The department is committed to being present for staging the start and finish as well as the providing of staff for timing, along with the subsequent clean-up of the race.” Brill said.
Meetings for the race are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Riverview Civic Center on Park Rd. in Riverview, on August 21, September 18, October 2 and 23 and November 6.
All those interested in volunteering, sponsoring or signing up to race, please visit www.alafiachallenge.com.