Participants

Participants in a past Kayak for the Warriors fundraising event pass through McNeil Inlet in Pine Knoll Shores. This year's kayak and paddleboard race is set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1, and the race will be the culmination of a series of Kayak for the Warriors events that will start with a 5K and 10K beach run at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 25. (Dylan Ray photo)

It’s time once again for kayakers, paddleboarders, runners and others to come together to raise funds to help service members and their families.

The 12th annual Kayak for the Warriors event will begin Saturday, May 25 in Pine Knoll Shores. The event has grown since its beginning in 2008. The main event is a kayak and paddleboard race where competitors and their sponsors donate money to Hope for the Warriors, a national nonprofit  organization dedicated to assisting veterans, service members and military families.

While the race remains the main focus of the event, it also features two beach runs and a reception with silent and live auctions.

Pine Knoll Shores Parks and Recreation committee member and event coordinator Jean McDanal said last year there were 163 participants in the kayak and paddleboard race, including eight “wounded warriors,” service members who had been injured in the line of duty. There were also 77 participants in the two beach runs and 250 attendees at the reception.

Ms. McDanal also said they raised $65,000 in 2018.

“This put us over the half million mark,” she said. “We hope to have a great turnout for all of the events (this year).”

Kayak for the Warriors begins at 8 a.m. May 25 with a 5K and 10K beach run. The runs begin on the beach at the Inn at Pine Knoll Shores, formerly known as The Clamdigger. Registration for the 5K is $25, while registration for the 10K is $35; both registrations include a T-shirt.

The event continues Thursday, May 30 with the Warrior Reception at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door and include heavy appetizers and access to the aquarium’s exhibits. The reception features a silent and live auction, which begin at 6 p.m.

The event concludes with the kayak and paddleboard race at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 1. The 3.2-mile race begins at Garner Park, goes through Bogue Sound and the Pine Knoll Shores canals, then back to the park.

Registration for the race is $50 for a single kayak or paddleboard and $100 for a tandem kayak; both include a T-shirt and lunch.

Those who wish to support Hope for the Warriors without participating may purchase lunch at Garner Park. Lunch is $10 per person or $15 per family.

Preregistration is encouraged for all events. On-site registration is available, and online registration is available at k4tw.org.  

Ms. McDanal said effects from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in North Carolina last September, has had some effect on the event this year.

“Many of the businesses who’ve been stalwart donors in the past have pulled back a bit and some are still in recovery mode and not even open,” she said. “We know that Florence took a major toll on the areas. We just want people to come out and have fun for a good cause.”

This year, the winning times will be calculated differently than before. Ms. McDanal said the Warrior Trophy will be awarded to the paddler who brings in the most monetary donations.

“We’ll no longer be calculating winning times by deducted seconds,” she said. “We’ve also added a tandem category this year for kayak paddlers.”

More information on Hope for the Warriors is available at hoepforthewarriros.org.

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