More than 200 local children with disabilities enjoyed a rare opportunity to take a boat ride on Okanagan Lake Saturday during the seventh annual Boat for Hope event.
Volunteer members of the Kelowna Yacht Club took the kids—as well as their families and caretakers—out on the water to visit five anchored pirate ships, which were forced to give up bags of “booty” when the children attacked with water guns.
“Our members do everything they can to get the kids out to have the best time possible,” said Ken Smith, director of communications for Kelowna Yacht Club.
“They do it simply because of the smiles they get from the kids.”
The event began seven years ago when Variety – The Children’s Charity approached KYC to see if it would be interested in partnering to bring the event to Kelowna.
Although the yacht club itself doesn’t put money into the event, nearly 200 of its members donate their boats, fuel and time to help Boat for Hope run smoothly.
According to Smith, many people appreciate Boat for Hope as there are a limited number of events that allow the entire family of a child with a disability to take part.
“If there’s one child with some kind of an issue and (he/she has) five siblings and (his/her) parents—we’ll bring them all out.”
Smith added there hasn’t been any safety issues to date, partly thanks to the club’s experienced skippers.
Kelowna firefighters helped out with the event again this year by safely loading children, as well as wheelchairs and other necessary items, onto the boats.
Hundreds of spectators near City Park watched the conclusion of Boat for Hope as the five pirate ships lifted their anchors, approached each other and engaged in a traditional water fight.