Whole foods and whole lotta fun

Watery fundraiser generates funds for cancer patient nutrition needs

Big Andrew founders Justin, right, and Ian Knowles, with Susan Frost of Providence at a busy Nichols Boat Basin Saturday.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
Big Andrew founders Justin, right, and Ian Knowles, with Susan Frost of Providence at a busy Nichols Boat Basin Saturday.

White water and calm water formed wet venues for the second King of the Salmon fundraiser Friday and Saturday.

Clinics and races churned up the Nichols Boat Basin a bit on Saturday as Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital and the Big Andrew Foundation joined forces for the event to help the Providence Cancer Center, mainly through improving nutrition for local patients.

“Our ultimate goal is one: Have a very successful event; and most importantly, for people to have fun for a good cause,” said Big Andrew Director Justin Knowles, a University of Oregon graduate who co-founded Big Andrew with his brother, Ian. The foundation is named for Andrew Gmelch, the Knowles’ childhood friend from New England who died on Dec. 5, 2007, of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“We’re very, very fortunate to be working with them,” said Susan Frost, Providence spokeswoman, who said the Knowles came to her with the idea of an event that would support cancer patients and their families and emphasize holistic treatment, centering on nutrition.

After Friday’s Green Truss Race on the White Salmon involving world-class competitive kayakers, King of the Salmon took over the Nichols Boat Basin on Saturday with fun races and clinics in stand-up paddling and flatwater kayaking. Events culminated with a slicey boatercross race, music, awards, and food and drink from Big Man’s Rotisserie and local breweries.

Put-in for the Truss Race was at Elbow Basher and the finish was at Karen’s Box near BZ Corner.

In the long boat class, top finishers were Aniol Serrasolses, 04:39.1; Jake Greenbaum, 04:47:9; Geoff Calhoun, 04:48.1.

In the short boat class, top finishers were Gerd Serrasolses, 04:55.1; Evan Garcia, 04.57.5; Sean Madden, 05.12.6.

But competition was just the precursor with King of the Salmon.

Through Big Andrew’s support, Providence will provide Gorge Grown Veggie Rx vouchers to hospital patients, giving them access to locally grown food. Veggie Rx vouchers are issued by health providers to community members to exchange for fresh fruit and vegetables made available through farmers markets and grocery stores.

“We want to bring together the community of water sports, the community of the hospital and the community of Hood River to celebrate whatever we love to do, kayaking or paddling, whatever, we just want people to come out and enjoy what they love,” Knowles said. “It’s for people who want to get engaged in the sports but might not have the ability to do so.”

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