Taylor Pelotte Surfathon a success in 2006
By Brent Elwell
The 2006 Taylor Pelotte Surfathon was held Saturday July 29 in The Forks. This was the fourth consecutive year it has been held. The Surfathon is held in the memory of Taylor Pelotte, who passed away in Nov. 2003, after a fourteen-month battle with cancer. Taylor was the nine-year-old daughter of Greg and Sharon Pelotte of Winslow. She was an active member of the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society who participated in many of the club's outdoor activities with her family. I had the privilege of sharing her company on some of the hiking and paddling trips. She was a very inspirational girl.
Upon driving into The Forks you could see the tent that Ed Webb had erected for the yard sale that Tee Brower was organizing. All manner of things were donated to the sale, but the big-ticket items were the kayaks. This was just one of the fundraisers for the Surfathon. The main fundraiser was the pledges that the participants solicited before the event. Laura Neal did her usual impeccable job of collecting pledges, selling T-shirts and keeping the Surfathon rolling smoothly. After totaling the pledges, the figure exceeded $21,000. This was the highest amount raised since the start of the Surfathons three years ago. Thanks to the dinner proceeds, T-shirt sales and business sponsors all the expenses were covered, so the entire amount of the pledges will go directly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine.
Every participant had a choice of river difficulty and length. The rivers that paddlers chose to paddle ranged from the Dead (at 2,400 cfs) to the Kennebec Gorge (at 4,800 cfs). The easiest option was to paddle the Dead from the Spencer Stream, put in to Webb's Campground. The majority of Surfathon participants chose this option. Twenty-five paddlers in a variety of river craft were marshaled down the river by trip coordinator John Brower. There were shredders, open canoes (solo and tandem) and kayaks (also solo and tandem). Kenny DeCoster and B.B. Adams led another smaller wave of boaters later in the day down the Dead, after the water had dropped to the scheduled 1,300 cfs afternoon level.
The more adventuresome paddlers chose to paddle both the Dead and either the whole of the Kennebec or a portion of it. This entailed an 8 a.m. start time and an approximate 6 pm.. arrival time back at Webb's Campground. Three paddlers, Kyle Duckworth, Kim Perkins and Tennie Coleman earned Hammerhead status by paddling complete runs on both the Dead and Kennebec Rivers, which totaled 28 miles. The next most difficult option was the Dead and Upper Kennebec, which involves 20 miles of river. Greg Pelotte, Amanda Shorette and Steve West all earned Claw Hammer status by paddling this option. The last option was Ball Peen Hammer - two runs on the Upper Kennebec and then Carry Brook to Ball Field section. Gary Cole opted for this choice. Regardless of the choice of river, it was a full day of paddling for everyone.
The Surfathon has been held for the benefit of several children's charities over the past three years including Camp Sunshine, the Maine Children's Cancer Program and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine. It was decided to donate this year's Surfathon proceeds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine once again. For the first time this year, the Maine Canoe and Kayak Racing Organization (MaCKRO) joined long-time Surfathon organizers Riverdrivers Whitewater Rafting and the Penobscot Paddle and Chowder Society as a co-sponsor. MaCKRO kicked things off early in the spring by raising $1,500 from the Souadabscook and Marsh Stream races. On the day of the Surfathon, MaCKRO paddlers were racing down the Dead in competition for the American Canoe Association's New England Division Whitewater Open Canoe Championship, while the PPCS paddlers were taking their time surfing waves.
Between the 2004 proceeds of $19,000 and this year's total of over $21,000, the Taylor Pelotte Surfathon has now raised more than $40,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine. This amounts to eight wishes granted because the average cost of a wish is about $5,000. Kate Vickery, Volunteer Director of the Make -A-Wish Foundation of Maine, paddled the Dead as a guest of of Riverdrivers Rafting, and was present at the supper that evening. She spoke about the work of Make-A-Wish and thanked all the Surfathon participants. Clayton Cole, the Surfathon Chairman for MaCKRO, also spoke after the dinner.
The dinner was a success. Brian Smith was the pit master and cooked up a mean barbecue. Karen and Andy Webb, owners of Riverdrivers Whitewater Rafting, were very supportive of the event. They provided a shelter for the raffle and Surfathon festivities. Ed Webb baked his famous bean hole beans. The campfire was also held on the Riverdrivers space. Sharon Pelotte organized a raffle, which was very successful. Many companies donated prizes for this event.
After the dinner there was a big campfire at the Riverdrivers fire pit. The Webbs know how to make bonfires, as this was the biggest one that I have seen. PPCS President Kyle Duckworth brought out his guitar and provided musical entertainment around the campfire.
We are looking forward to next year's Surfathon.
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