Don’t let the snow and chilly temperatures get you down. Spring is coming and with it will be the third annual Float Your Boat for the Food Bank cardboard boat race April 12 at the Bass Pro Lake in northeast Columbia.
The race of homemade cardboard boats is a fundraiser by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources at the University of Missouri and The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.
Last year’s race saw 46 boats compete for various prizes. Vessels were constructed by student groups, community organizations, businesses, individuals, families and media companies. Boats were constructed of cardboard, duct tape, glue and the imagination of their builders. They included pink race cars, Viking war boats, Titanic replicas, pirate ships and canoes with puppy dog faces.
Awards are presented in categories including the Ugliest Boat, Can’t Believe It’s Cardboard Award, the Titanic Award for the Best Sinking, Spirit Award and the Bass Pro Shops Award.
The 2013 People’s Choice Award, chosen by the amount of donations raised at the race, was presented to The Crawdaddy, captained by Tony Thorpe, senior research specialist in fisheries and wildlife at the MU School of Natural Resources. His team raised $2,260. The boat, which featured the large pincers and head of a crawdad, also was given the Best Theme prize. It capsized at the beginning of its race.
“There is no reason people should be hungry,” Thorpe said. “Not in this country and not in Missouri. With the Float Your Boat race, we have the opportunity to have fun and feed people. We’re helping people right here in our part of Missouri. With the money raised by this event last year, The Food Bank was able to provide more than 200,000 meals to the children, the working poor, and the elderly of Missouri. Not bad for a bunch of goofballs in cardboard boats.”
The race helps The Food Bank feed hungry Missourians. More than $17,000 in donations were collected at last year’s event. “Each dollar raised equals 12 meals in the 32 counties served by The Food Bank,” said Todd Pridemore, development manager at The Food Bank.
“The majority of people receiving food are poor working families, the elderly and children,” said Tom Payne, vice chancellor and CAFNR dean, who came up with the idea for the race. “One in five children in our region face hunger on a regular basis.”
The Food Bank is a non-governmental agency. More than 92 percent of its funding comes from donations, fundraising events and grants.
The Food Bank helps to feed more than 114,000 people each month in 32 counties in central and northeast Missouri, said Executive Director Peggy Kirkpatrick. It distributes free food to 138 elementary schools through the Buddy Pack Program, a weekend food service for children; and 135 hunger-relief agencies, such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters.
“Taking part in Float Your Boat is a blast,” Thorpe continued. “I enjoy hanging out with friends while building our boat. We collaborate on the engineering – if you can call it engineering – and the visual design, usually with plenty of snacks and beverages on hand. Race day is just the icing on the cake. It’s the big party that wraps up ‘boat season.’ I don’t even mind that our boat sank last year. But, man, that water was cold.”
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