Despite an 11th hour change of plans, Paddle for Life’s benefit Saturday at Vancouver Lake Regional Park still received plenty of support.
The dragon boat races, which are the event’s traditional centerpiece, were canceled late in the day Friday after correspondence between Clark County Public Health and Paddle for Life leadership. Friday morning, Public Health officials placed Vancouver Lake under a warning due to elevated levels of cyanotoxins, and recommended cancellation of the races at Vancouver Lake for the weekend. Cyanotoxins, caused by blooms of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can be harmful to people.
Paddle for Life board members deliberated for around three hours Friday before deciding to continue with the race as planned. However, once they heard cyanotoxin levels were six times higher than the Washington State Health Department’s toxicity warning threshold, they decided to cancel the dragon boat races and host a run/walk, in addition to other land-based activities.
Dee Anne Finken, a Paddle for Life spokeswoman, said turnout didn’t seem to affected by Friday’s revisions.
“We were pleased, pleasantly surprised,” Finken said. “The people who were there wanted to be there.”
While race organizers didn’t have a count of the number of people who showed up, Paddle for Life representative Gail Liberman said in a press release that the event will exceed the $14,500 donated to the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center in 2017, the last time Paddle for Life raised money for CCVAC.
Saturday’s revised scheduled featured a toilet paper race, trivia, local food vendors and more. Finken said they did the best to “make lemons out of lemonade.”
“It was a great spirited event. People really got behind it,” Finken said.