Paddle boards & Pokey-O’s: Racers compete in Kayak for a Cause

Story by Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer, Video by Melanie Pace | Broadcast Reporter

Sunday afternoon, 106 racers traveled 3.9 miles to raise money and awareness for an important cause … in kayaks.

This event marked the first year of Kayak for a Cause, a kayaking and paddle boarding race on the Brazos River to benefit the American Valor Foundation.

Kayak for a Cause had single and double kayak categories, as well as a division for stand-up paddle boarders. Pokey O’s was served and iHeart Radio was a prominent sponsor, but the main goal of the event was to support a worthy cause.

American Valor Foundation works to support the military and their families and was founded in memory of Chris Kyle, a US Navy SEAL and author of the bestselling memoir American Sniper.

“American Valor Foundation is a nonprofit corporation committed to supporting our military Veterans, First Responders and their families through programs of fund raising efforts and direct support to individuals,” its website says.

Several of Kyle’s family members attended the event, and Mike Krewson, McLane Stadium general manager, appreciated their involvement and enthusiam about the event.

“Chris Kyle’s nieces actually started the race,” Krewson said. “It was exciting to see everyone lined up.”

Krewson has been at Baylor for nearly three years now and said he has enjoyed his role in planning events at the stadium. He saw a kayak race as a unique fundraising idea that would utilize Waco’s Brazos river.

“It’s been fun,” Krewson said. “We hope to do another similar event in spring and have even considered a ‘polar bear’ type race in February.”

Bryan and Deanna Lueckenotte, residents of the Gatesville area, attended the event. Bryan is a friend of Chris Kyle’s brother Jeff, and Deanna has family from Waco.

“I actually found the event on Facebook, and we just thought it was something neat because we had thought about doing kayaking in the past,” Bryan Lueckenotte said. “We came out to see the race, see the involvement and for support.”

Deanna Lueckenotte said she appreciated the event’s use of the Brazos River and saw Kayak for a Cause as a way to get people involved and to have fun.

“We wanted to see what it would be like, especially with it being the first year,” Deanna Lueckenotte said. “I have a lot of family in Waco so I definitely enjoy events like this — it gives me something fun to get involved in outside.”

Krewson encourages students to follow @McLaneStadium on Twitter for updates of future events at the stadium. Along with football games, McLane has several more events lined up for the next few months.

Important highlights include a movie showing/stadium slumber party where you can sleep over on the field on Oct. 13, as well as the second annual YMCA-sponsored Dragon Boat Festival on Oct. 27.