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River Paddlers raise $1,200 for locals in need of food

River Paddlers raise $1,200 for locals in need of food

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Paddlers

Mighty Mayo River Trip paddlers at the “Boiling Hole” at Mayo River State Park in 2020. 

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, NC — Converting paddle power into food for the hungry is an annual mission for organizers and participants of the Mighty Mayo River Trip.

While COVID-19 will keep many kayakers from gathering this year on the river in Rockingham County, the Carolina Canoe Club is determined to keep true to their standing pledge to collect food for those in need.

Event Organizer, Joe Berry of Carolina Canoe Club, and Steven Pulliam, Dan Riverkeeper, will present a $1,200  to Marty Roberts, executive director of LOT 25:40 on Saturday at Stoneville Memorial Park.

The non-profit, anchored by a thrift store and mission building in Mayodan, seeks to serve hundreds of Rockingham Countians who are unsure about how they will find their next meal.

Every January, as many as 50 river paddlers from across North Carolina make their way to Mayo River State Park for the "MMRT,'' named the 2020 American Canoe Association “Event of the Year.”

Along with paddles and gear, the boaters bring hundreds of pounds of food to help alleviate hunger in the region. And the crew works to remove dozens of bags of debris from the riverbank during a litter clean up.

While icy river conditions do not deter these whitewater enthusiasts, this year's infection risks with COVID-19 turned out to be a showstopper for the MMRT.

But Berry, the canoe club's Cruise Chairman, found a way to navigate the snag caused by COVID-19 and reached out to ROCKAID for help in collecting cash donations for Lot 25:40.

ROCKAID is an innovative non-profit partnership between Reidsville Area Foundation, Dan Riverkeeper, Rockingham County Education Foundation, Rockingham County Arts Council, Piedmont Folk Legacies and Dexter Media. The group organized in March to raise funds for children in need of food in the wake of COVID-19's devastating economic impact on many in Rockingham.

In order to inspire donations from his fellow paddlers, Berry agreed to “take a pie in the face” from Stoneville Mayor Kathy Galvan on Jan. 16 at Stoneville Memorial Park if the group met a minimum fundraising goal.

To up the ante, Berry agreed that if the group raised more than a thousand dollars, he would take a “fantasy run” of the Mayo River at Stoneville Memorial Park.

In such a make believe scenario, every time Berry hits an imaginary rapid, Dan Riverkeeper, Steven Pulliam, is expected to douse Berry with buckets of water to simulate the river rapid experience. The event will be live streamed on Facebook on the ROCKAID Facebook page starting at about 10 a.m.

Food donations are encouraged and can be made through a no-contact drop off at Stoneville Memorial Park on Saturday between 10-10:45 a.m. 

Find more information about ROCKAID on the Rockingham County Education Foundation website, www.helprockinghamstudents.org, and the Dan Riverkeeper’s website at danriverkeeper.org.

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