Hearty Roots hosts 3rd annual Paddle for a Purpose

Mon, 06/10/2024 - 8:45am

At 11 a.m. Saturday, June 8, about 75 paddlers departed Glidden Point Oyster Farm on a five-mile route to Damariscotta Town Landing for Hearty Roots’ (HR) third annual Paddle For A Purpose fundraising event. Paddlers enjoyed favorable tide and wind conditions, and only about 10 minutes of light rain mid-course. Karol and Walt Batansky of Boothbay took first place in the unofficial race with a time of 58 minutes, earning the Speedy Gonzales award.

The dark clouds that loomed would later dump heavy intermittent rain on the after-party at the Shuck Station with nearly 200 supporters in attendance, dry under tents. Partygoers were entertained with Latin music from the six-piece set, Primo Cubano, heard talks from HR staff and students, sampled free oysters, browsed HR swag, and participated in a live auction.

The event is a key fundraiser for HR and increases in size and scope each year. The event is supported by over a dozen businesses and sponsors (Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust, Oxbow, Maine Behavioral Health, Bissell Brothers, First National Bank, Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture, Midcoast Kayak, First National Wealth Management, Knickerbocker Group, Whaleback Farm, ALKU Foundation, Glidden Point Oyster Farm, Riverside Butcher Co., Bred in the Bone, and The Silver Street Group) and artists such as Laurel Averill, Dan Ucci, Joseph DiMauro, Sonjay Bergquist, Carpenters Boat Shop, Kenneth and Angela Kourtmeyer, and Doug Gimbel donating art that raised almost $9,000 in the auction. Other popular auction items included Patagonia swag, a vacation at the Lodge in Carrabassett Valley, a kayak, and the now-famous paella dinner for 10.

“With the purchase of our land and camp, we are here to stay,” said founder and director Haley Bezon. “We are hoping to end the day with the ability to purchase wheels. We’ve been using our personal vehicles and it’s a bottleneck – more transportation means more access for campers who couldn’t get to HR otherwise. We need to raise $10,000 to receive a $10,000 match from Reny’s Charitable Foundation.” The wish would come true. After the auction, HR received a $5,000 pledge, four $1,000 pledges, and two $500 pledges. The event is expected to bring more when amounts are tallied soon.

Camper turned staff member Olive Pine spoke of what HR has meant to her. “This is a great community that breaks economic barriers to access. I’ve learned so much – I’ve learned ocean kayaking, woodworking, and so much more.”

“This event runs in parallel with our mission – guiding people off the grid and into their hearts. It’s about connection, adventure, and reflection. And get out and celebrate in the community,” said deputy director Jess Ruhlin Donohoe.

In one year’s time, HR has purchased 100 acres of wilderness on Biscay Pond in Bremen to establish a permanent location. HR has secured a Maine Department of Education MOLI grant, enabling 131 teens to attend camp and 122 hours of support for teens at three local schools for free, received $25,000 in scholarships to ensure equal access, and expanded to 32 adventure program offerings.

This year’s “Spirit Paddle” prize for the paddlers showing the most fun and flare was awarded to two families: the Hendersons and the Larner-Lewis family. The “Smelled All the Roses” award for coming in last went to Molly Thibault, who finished the course swimming instead of paddling after heroically giving her canoe to a fellow paddler in need.

Bezon concluded the event with a final plea for help preparing the new property to welcome campers in just three weeks. “We need volunteers badly – bring your chainsaws, clippers, rakes, and work gloves. We need trail clearers and volunteers to help with clean up and set up.” To volunteer, visit https://www.heartyroots.org/join-our-team