Canoeing for KidsNow Celebrating 20 years of
Smiling Children's Faces
The History of CFK
Canoeing for Kids began in 1993 when founder Jay Alley and a team of paddlers traveled 2,000 miles
from New York to New Orleans with a dream of creating an organization to provide free paddling for
underprivileged kids. The original 57 day Canoe-a-thon generated nearly $40,000 as well as notable
credibility for "the dream." The passing years have seen Canoeing for Kids provide paddle sports to
thousands of disadvantaged kids, hold numerous fundraisers while amassing a fleet of canoes,
kayaks, rafts and safety equipment. We are prepared to provide countless adventures for the kids in
the years to come!
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A Letter from Joe
To Our Friends and Family Old and New,
Eleven years ago CFK(Canoeing for Kids) was still a dream in the hearts of maybe 100 people: our family, Jay's friends, visionaries at College Place Church/Columbia College and a few media friends. One dreamer was Eula Mae Hood, then of Eau Claire, now of Heaven.
She prayed daily for Jay's dream to be fulfilled and had asked her Baptist neighbor/prayer partner to join her. They knew April Fool's Day, l993 was my choice to "go public" and spread the CFK story everywhere possible. They prayed; I publicized. Eula Mae's prayer partner also publicized--to her son in Pittsburg who was a producer for KDKA-TV. God bless those Baptists who know how to spread Good News!
Now, fast forward five months. Jay is paddling down the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. A call comes to my study: "Rev. Alley, you don't know me, but I'm a feature producer at KDKA-TV." My heart jumped with fear. My last call from a media friend was from Joe Pinner, who like a worried "uncle" told of a massive thunderstorm over the Allegheny valley. We both feared lightning. Jay had been struck by lightning in mid-July, when many of the "believers" decided CFK was not a dream but a nightmare, and there would never be a New York to New Orleans trip.
The reporter calmed my fears. "Where is Jay", he asked, adding that his mother back in EauClaire had been sending him publicity for five months. He was ready to do a feature when Jay paddled into Pittsburg. Taking the station 'copter he flew up-river, spotted Big Blue below, with two paddlers, called me back with Good News. "They're right below us, about twenty-five miles above Pittsburg."
The next day, after missing Jay at the planned interview site, the reporter rented a boat, chased Jay down river and did the interview. He called back to say, "He's on a mission! He wouldn't even slow up for the interview. I caught him while they paddled. I'm editing now, and this is an exciting story. Call all the Columbia stations and tell them they can have the feature free. It's my contribution to this cause. I'll also uplink it to our CBS network."
We'll never know how many stations picked up that feature, but I can report we didn't spend another dime on publicity. I was a busy, busy PR man for two months. Willard Scott did a "stand-up" on Today Show. National Public Radio did a feature, and when Jay paddled into New Orleans two TV networks covered the story as I was broadcasting live on old "Sunny 100" radio back to Columbia.
And it all started with a dream, a "calling", two women praying and God's Spirit taking the cause to the winds. May God teach us the meaning of these words on this TENTH day of April, TEN years later, after we passed the TEN THOUSAND mark in number of disadvantaged children taken paddling, after we passed that mark last year during the TENTH month, and a month before 2003 Raft-a-Rama on May TENTH, where we want to see you and at least TEN of your friends.
Development Director, CFK