The third annual Paddle 4 DART fundraiser Saturday at Riverbank Marina in Sacramento brought in about $20,000 for the Drowning Accident Rescue Team.
As spectators and volunteers cheered from the docks on the Garden Highway, dozens of people raced up and down the Sacramento River on paddleboards. While most participants were from the Sacramento area, there was a contingent from San Francisco.
“The event is good for all levels of paddleboarders,” said Kelsey Follett of Riverbank Marina.
The most serious competitors raced a 4-mile loop that featured some upstream paddling. For those just looking to have fun, there was a 1-mile beginner race.
The athleticism of the solo race is pretty incredible. Four miles on a paddleboard is no joke.
Kelsey Follett of Riverbank Marina
“The athleticism of the solo race is pretty incredible,” Follett said. “Four miles on a paddleboard is no joke.”
Spectators and participants were treated to food, drinks and live demonstrations from the DART team. At one point, a volunteer from the crowd simulated a drowning sequence as members of the DART team rescued him in open water.
DART, a volunteer group run entirely on donations, uses any money raised to buy and maintain new equipment. DART’s vehicles are put to the test often.
“A few weeks ago, a boat capsized and we were just 100 yards away,” said Keith McAndrew, DART president. “We pulled eight people out of the water.”
The 2016 Paddle 4 DART event raised enough for two new personal watercraft that the team uses for rescue efforts.
For participants, the event is about having fun and fundraising. Patrick Alteri, the third-place finisher in the 4-mile race, said he enjoyed the event’s camaraderie.
“It’s fun to just come out with your friends and raise money for DART,” he said.