Jonny Owen had company floating the Barren Fork River on Saturday during the annual Kids of the Community Paddlefest.
Jonny brought his dogs, Beth and Rip, for the aquatic adventure. Beth showed she’s comfortable standing on the front of Jonny’s kayak as he left Pepper Branch Park and prepared for his roughly four-hour journey to Wild Bill’s BBQ.
Officers with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department were on hand to accompany some of the children with the Kids of the Community program on their trip down the river. Sheriff’s Major Jason Walker was there, along with deputy Brystol Davis, as positive role models for the children.
Kids of the Community aims to provide uplifting adult reinforcement to children in need of some extra attention. Kids of the Community has a facility on Cadillac Lane where it holds a number of activities, both after school and during the summer.
Paddlefest is a big annual fundraiser for the organization, typically generating between $10,000 and $12,000. General Sessions Judge Bill Locke was watching kayakers launch into the river Saturday morning and said this year’s event has done well from a financial standpoint.
“Hopefully we’ll end up with more money than usual,” said Locke.
County Executive Jimmy Haley invigorated participants with a moving speech before joining the group on a trip down the Barren Fork and Collins rivers.
“Every investment we make in a child is an investment we make in our future,” said Haley. “This shows what we can do when we work as a team and invest in Warren County as a collective body.”
Haley pointed out Paddlefest is an effective event for generating funds, but he said making a positive impact in the life of a child takes a year-round effort. Helping to ensure children are properly fed and that they receive homework assistance is a daily challenge, Haley noted.
A Jackson Kayak and a cooler were two of the many prizes available to those who purchased a ticket for a $10 donation.