Ninety-one-year-old Ken Gibbard, who’s taken part in three dozen Paddle for the Kids fundraisers, loves to be on the water.
“I just love being in boats,” he says. “They usually let me steer a canoe, and I love being in the stern even more.”
Ken’s been paddling with the Victoria Canoe and Kayak Club (VCKC) for more than 45 years.
“It’s always the fresh air and the social aspect,” the senior says. “We’ve got 35 people out together all paddling. It’s just the greatest thing!”
And every year, a very special club paddle in voyager canoes raises money for Easter Seals Camp Shawnigan, so people with physical and cognitive disabilities can go to summer camp.
“When you see the joy on the faces of the children at Camp Shawnigan during summer time and the program we are supporting, you just can’t help but have a really big glow in body and it’s really inspiring for all of us,” says VCKC paddler Phil McEvoy, who’s belonged to the club for 20 years.
Sixty club members, ranging in age from 20 to 91, took part in the all-day Paddle for the Kids relay April 1 in the Gorge Waterway.
“It’s a wonderful experience being on the Paddle for the Kids,” club member Pamela Carroll says. “VCKC has been doing this for 42 years, we raised more than $380,000 and the actual paddle is such an adventure.”
“It’s a great cause, all of us are right into it, and the club and all the members of the club have been behind this for 42 paddles,” Phil adds.
This year’s paddle hopes to raise $20,000 for Camp Shawnigan and donations can be made online for the next three weeks.
“We think it’s really important that everybody gets to go to camp and everybody gets to go on the water, so we really want to be sure we can provide them enough funding for those kids to go to camp,” Pamela says.
“I feel a debt to society,” Ken adds. “I’ve been a very lucky person and so some of my luck I can give back.”
Giving back is important to Ken, and he’s an inspiration to everyone he paddles with.
“I’m feeling my age, but I tell people if you slow down, you will slow down even more, so I keep pushing and I’m still going,” he says with a smile.