Variety – The Children's Charity reported an over 1,500-person turnout for its three recently held Variety Boat for Hope presented by Pharmasave events held in Victoria, Vancouver and Kelowna, BC. Among that total were more than 750 special needs children were taken for an unforgettable day of boating, which included a treasure hunt set to a pirate theme, and more than 250 volunteers.
“Every year we receive so many letters and emails from families saying how much they enjoy this event,” said Chris Graham, Boat for Hope's manager – special events. “Boat for Hope can be the highlight of a child's year. Very few of them would ever get the chance to go boating if it were not for the generosity of the skippers and their crews, who decorate their boats to fit in with the event's pirate theme and donate their precious time and boats to give these families a day where they do not have to think about hospitals, doctors appointments, and all the other health issues they face on a regular basis.”
This year marks the 11th year Boat for Hope has been held in Vancouver, the fifth year in Victoria and the third year in Kelowna. Each year, local boat owners and businesses help raise funds for the events two months prior to their start. Their efforts have been successful in raising $900,000 to date at all three locations, with the proceeds remaining in the communities to aid special needs children.
Annually, Variety – The Children's Charity receives and fills over 1,000 requests for funding from individual children and their families. Grants help pay for medical emergencies, specialized equipment, treatments and therapies, and occasionally travel and accommodation expenses to bring families together.
“Marine businesses have really stepped up and supported these events in all three cities,” explained Graham. “First and foremost has to be Mustang Survival and Rick Cassels. They have provided all the lifejackets that get shipped to each event since Boat for Hope's inception 11 years ago.”
“The Greater Victoria Harbor Authority is always helping us find boats, sponsoring a treasure station where the kids get their goodies; Tony McCormick and Peter Lambert from McCormick and Company in Sidney serve on the committee and coordinate all the on-water activity. The Canadian Navy and Coast Guard give us the use of their properties to hold the events as well as boats and personnel on the day of the event.”
“In Vancouver Steveston Marine, West Marine and Greenwood Yachts provide goodie bags for all the children. The Northwest Cruise Ship Association sponsors our banquet at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and the yacht club is also supportive, providing a magnificent venue for us to bring these families and then also to hold our banquet afterwards. The members and staff are always so welcoming and supportive. Formula Media Group also helped by donating the proceeds from the sale of Boatguide magazine at the Vancouver boat show. These totaled over $2,000 for Variety and Boat for Hope.”
“In Kelowna, we have been fortunate to have had the support of Dockside Marine every year it has been going. They provide us with goody bags for the children along with large tents we use for the land event.”
“NMMA's Wayne Yamauchi and Jennifer Kastelein have been supporting this event for years as committee members and they really spread the word about Boat for Hope and get so many marine businesses involved.”
Some of Variety's partners include title sponsor Pharmasave, Global BC, CHEK News, CHBC and Buy-Low Foods, to name a few. Since 1965, Variety has raised more than $140 million to help meet the needs of children.
Next year's Boat for Hope events are scheduled for Victoria, BC – June 5, Vancouver, BC – June 12 and Kelowna, BC – June 19. Variety is always looking for volunteers and support in the form of sponsorship, auction donations, boats for the events and/or volunteers.
For more information visit www.variety.bc.ca or call (800) 381-2040.