Joyce Marie Taylor
The 3rd Annual Suwannee River Paddle for Autism on Saturday, April 26, was a huge success, despite the rising waters of the Suwannee River. Organizers had to make adjustments to the day’s events to accommodate the swelling river by launching kayaks and canoes into Koon Lake instead, but it didn’t keep folks from coming out to support a worthy cause.
Lafayette County Sheriff Brian Lamb brought along a power boat to have on hand for safety and rescue, just in case.
Peggy Grill, organizer of Suwannee River Paddle for Autism said, “This year we really hit the ball out of the park!”
Grill said with the support of many business, government, and individual sponsors, as well as folks who donated prizes, along with the wonderful people who participated in the raffle, they raised $4,335, which will be donated to the University of Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.
“This is over $1,000 more than we raised at last year’s paddle event!” Grill said, truly excited about the turnout for the event.
Grill and her husband Martin wish to give a big thank you to the Suwannee River Rendezvous Resort and Campground for hosting the event again this year. Owner Susie Page and her staff sold about $1,000 worth of raffle tickets, contributed a two-night cabin stay as a door prize, and contributed overnight lodging for Mean Mary.
“They also built a covered stage for the event and provided the Saltwater Cowboys to play free of charge,” said Grill.
Another big thanks goes out to Brady and Debra Faulkner of Castle Krafters, who donated the beautiful grand prize this year; a custom-made, handcrafted wooden kayak.
Additional thanks to Linda Partney, goldsmith, who donated a chocolate pearl bracelet and to Duke Energy District Manager Robert Pickels who donated four suite passes in the Duke Energy suite to the Tampa Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels on August 1, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Food and beverage are provided as part of the suite pass.
Door prizes were awarded during intermissions in the music. Many of the door prizes were contributed by Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative Community Relations Manager Baynard Ward and included carry bags, wall clocks and commemorative coasters.
A number of autism-related prizes were contributed, such as bracelets, keychains and wall hangings created by children with autism.
“Angie McCray of Lafayette Elementary School provided two very nice paintings drawn by her autistic students,” said Grill.
The grand prize drawings were held about 5 p.m. The winner of the grand prize, a beautiful, custom-made wooden Kayak was Tracy Wilson of Mayo. The YETI Tundra 45 cooler was won by Brady Faulkner of Lakeland. The Two Night Cabin Lodging at the Suwannee River Rendezvous Resort and Campground was won by Vince Lopez of St. Petersburg. The Chocolate Pearl Bracelet was won by Edward Stanley of Tallahassee, and the four box Duke Energy suite passes to a Tampa Rays baseball game in St. Petersburg were won by John C. Hewett of Mayo.
Martin Grill said, “We want to again thank our many wonderful sponsors and individuals who donated so much money this year. We were especially pleased by the support we received from local government officials, civic organizations and our school board.”
Sponsors of the event were Castle Krafters-Lakeland, Lafayette County Commissioners, Linda K. Partney, goldsmith, J&J Gas, Subs ‘N’ More, Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce, McMillan Law Office, Alliance Dairies, Mayo Town & Country Animal Hospital, Audrey grill and family, Sheriff Brian Lamb and family, Suwannee River Rendezvous Resort & Campground, Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative. Trawick Farms, Duke Energy, CanoeSuwannee.com, First Federal Savings Bank, Mayo City Council, Farm Bureau Insurance, Lafayette County School Board, Drummond Community Bank, Reba Trawick, Mark Land, Bow to Stern Marine and A3 Graphics.