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Cardboard Boats Hit the Waves to Kick Off United Way Campaign

Eighth Annual Event Gathers Jackson County Community
Posted at 11:36 AM, Sep 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-10 11:36:48-04

JACKSON, Mich. — The eighth annual What Floats Your Cardboard Boat? Race gave plenty of food for thought as 16 entrants paddled for prizes and kicked off United Way of Jackson County’s fall fundraising campaign.

Western High School’s “Western Omelette” outdistanced the other competitors at the urban fishery pond at Cascade Falls Park. Second place went to Flagstar Bank’s “Monkey Business.”

Ken Toll, President and CEO of United Way of Jackson County (UWJC), celebrated the teamwork that symbolizes the boat race. He underscored how shared efforts also help the community move toward creating financially stable households that rise out of poverty.

“All of us in Jackson County are eager to make this community better,” Toll said. “We’re determined to show the world that Jackson County is special. That kind of focused enthusiasm is rare. But here in Jackson County, we have it in abundance. And that’s why we’re winning the battle against poverty.”

The cardboard boat race serves both as a community event and the launch of United Way’s annual campaign. In 2016, UWJC announced it would channel efforts to helping Jackson County residents overcome poverty and economic instability—the common link across the community’s greatest social issues. Its long-term goal is to help 5,000 residents develop a pathway to financial stability by 2025.

The race theme was food, and the boats were designed around many kinds of edibles. More than 300 spectators turned out for the event. Emcee was Luke Snyder, Jackson reporter for WLNS-TV.

Besides the winning team, award winners at this year’s event included Target’s “Smoothie Sailing” for Judges’ Choice; EXIT Realty’s “Grace Oakley’s Hot Dog” for People’s Choice; Henry Ford Allegiance Health’s “S.S. Green Market” for Best Representation of Theme; and Experience Jackson’s “Nacho Boat” for Most Spectacular Sinking This year’s participating organizations were Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc. (MACI), Target, Salvation Army, Experience Jackson, Save Our Youth, Flagstar Bank, Consumers Energy, County National Bank, Western High School, Henry Ford Allegiance Health, LJ Ross & Associates, Huff Auto Group, City of Jackson, Jackson County Parks, EXIT Realty and Jackson County Government.

To underscore its partnerships and work against poverty, UWJC is posting information online. Go to, or visit UWJC’s social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. To find out more or to make a gift to United Way, go to and click on “Donate,” or call 517-784-0511.

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