September 17, 2011 -- Two hundred paddlers took to the water on Saturday, for the first annual Great River Race – a canoe challenge designed to raise funds and awareness for the academic achievement gap in the Twin Cities. Proceeds from the race benefit Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures (UWCA), a creative outdoor education initiative that works to reduce the achievement gap in public schools by providing enriching nature-based learning to more than 10,000 students each year. The UWCA is a joint initiative of Wilderness Inquiry, the National Park Service and the Mississippi River Fund, in partnership with Minneapolis and Saint Paul Public Schools.
“We are thrilled with the tremendous corporate and community support we received for the Great River Race in its first year,” says Greg Lais, Executive Director of race producer Wilderness Inquiry.
“Metro schools are experiencing a growing academic achievement gap, which we believe is in part, an opportunity gap. Proceeds from the race will help us connect more than 10,000 urban kids with UWCA programs in the coming year.”
“Many UWCA participants don’t have access to high-quality educational enrichment programs,” says Paul Labovitz, superintendent of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. “When we get kids out on the river with the UWCA, we see lives transformed. We introduce them to the national park that runs through their city, and we introduce them to new ways of thinking about themselves, their communities and their world.”
Local corporations, nonprofits and government organizations participated in the race, fielding twenty teams of ten paddlers each. Teams raced 24’ Voyageur Canoes on the Mississippi River, from East River Flats Park on the University of Minnesota Campus to Harriet Island in Saint Paul.
Each team raced on behalf of a local school in an effort to win that school a $5,000 UWCA scholarship. The Cassidy Turley team raced on behalf of W.I.S.E. Charter School.
HealthPartners took first place with a total race time of 78:08 minutes, winning a $5,000UWCA scholarship for Central Senior High. The Cassidy Turley “W.I.S.E.” team placed 10th with a time of 86:21.
“We extend our warmest thanks and congratulations to everyone who competed in the inaugural Great River Race. With event proceeds benefiting urban students, everyone who participated wins.”
Photos of the Cassidy Turley team can be found at: http://images.wildernessinquiry.org/search_results.php?search_terms=2011+Great+River+Race+Cassidy
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Jennifer L. Umberger
Senior Marketing Manager