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It’s been a long winter.  The rain and cold weather were relentless, and actually still are relentless.  Last weekend California Canoe and Kayak and AW kick started Spring with their annual fundraiser, Opening Day on the South Fork and the sun actually made a welcome appearance for the day.
Every spring for 7 years now California Canoe and Kayak along with Jackson Kayak and Ninkasi Brewing Company has hosted a benefit for American Whitewater at their outpost in Coloma usually in early April in anticipation of the coming spring.  The past few years have had freakishly unstable weather and high water to deal with and this year was on track for another atmospheric river event that threatened to put a damper on things.
Those issues didn’t hamper the efforts of the event organizers in the least.  Colin Kemp, one of Jackson Kayaks original employees and all around good guy rallied JK Team paddlers to host 4 diverse clinics with all proceeds going to AW.  Keith and Tammy, the owners of CCK and some of the most genuine and hardworking people in the business put in countless hours to bring together another event that featured close to $5000 in raffle prizes including a new Jackson Kayak of your choice.  They organized food, music, shuttles, boats, and countless other details that went into this successful event.  American Whitewater, led by California Stewardship Director Theresa Simsiman, a local paddler and wonder woman for AW, did much leg work behind the scenes to organize and then man the drink ticket booth/raffle table all night.  Ninkasi Brewery, a paddler friendly Eugene based micro brewing company has donated beer at all seven of the events and is always a huge hit.  The music, Tepid Club of Cool, contributed their magic for the night and were wonderful.  Meera, a local paddler, donated a table full of jewelry and art giving every dollar of sales to AW.  
While it wasn’t the biggest turnout we have ever had for the event, what it lacked in numbers was made up for in quality.
The clinics were some of the best offered to date and the students walked away with some new skill sets and useful tips.  The raffle, art, clinic, and beer sales this year earned close to $6000 for AW for a grand total of  $37,832.95 over the 7 years that these events have taken place.  Grassroots organizations like AW leverage this money hundreds of times over in the work they do, much of it pro bono, so any time you think you would like to donate to an organization that works for paddlers, remember AW.
Jackson Kayak has always been a huge supporter of AW from its beginning and this event follows a long history of events it sponsors and donates to to help AW.  It is wonderful to see an All American Company like Jackson Kayak support an organization like AW to help insure that all paddlers maintain and gain access to American rivers.
Huge thanks to all of the people, named and un-named who made this event such a big success, and thanks to all who turned out, took clinics, drank beer, and danced.
Next time you need some gear or beverage, keep companies like JK, CCK, Ninkasi, and all of the companies who donated raffle prizes this year in mind (NRS, Kokatat, Thule, Sweet Protection, Stohlquist, IR, Aquabound, and Snapdragon).  And put next years event on your calendar to see just how awesome it is first hand!
Happy Paddling,