Earlier this month, a flotilla of picnic boats set off from Kingston Foreshore packed with faces beaming in anticipation of a day of food and fun on the water.
The GoBoat fundraiser day, a joint venture between the ACT Down Syndrome Association (ACTDSA) – which aims to improve the quality of life for people with Down syndrome – and myriad of local businesses, was designed to deliver a grand day out for people with Down syndrome, while fundraising the work of ACTDSA.
ACTDSA executive officer Shannon Kolak describes the fundraiser that was held on Saturday, 6 November, as a “really terrific day” for all involved.
“One of the mums said she got to enjoy such a beautiful time with her family,” she says. “The boats wasn’t something she thought she’d be able to do, but she was really thankful. Everyone who was there that day echoes that sentiment.”
Shannon says GoBoat, the Canberra electric picnic boat company based at Kingston Foreshore, approached the ACT Down Syndrome Association with the idea for a fundraiser that would see businesses sponsoring a trip in one of their boats for people with Down syndrome.
“This fundraiser was really important for us because we don’t receive any government funding for our operational costs,” says Shannon.
“We do receive bits and pieces of project funding around specific projects, but nothing for our operations. We rely really heavily on the community for donations and sponsorship.”
All up, 12 companies came onboard for the recent boating trip, sponsoring one boat each – well and truly enough for 40 to 50 people to spend a relaxing afternoon bobbing on the gentle ebbs and flows of Lake Burley Griffin. To top it all off, a barbecue lunch was cooked by ACTDSA volunteers.
Shannon says one sponsor in particular, BAL Lawyers, went above and beyond.
“When they found out what the charity day was for, they contacted us and said they would like to go a bit further.”
BAL covered the cost of the boats going out a couple of times, and put the central wooden picnic table on each one to good use by suppling grazing boxes packed with goodies.
Given it was a warm and sunny day, they also provided hats for everyone.
BAL Lawyers legal director Ian Meagher says that as a Canberra-based law firm, they felt the GoBoat charity day presented an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and provide welcome funds for a “wonderful organisation that leads the way in building an inclusive community for people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities”.