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Elkhart United Way race makes another big splash

Elkhart United Way race makes another big splash

Event kicks off local organization's annual fundraiser


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ELKHART —  More than 50 teams from local companies manning cardboard boats came out Friday, splashing and some sinking, for United Way of Elkhart County’s annual Great Cardboard Boat Race.

The race, now in its ninth year, kicks off the agency’s annual fundraising campaign.

Nearly 29 companies had boats in the races, which consisted of eight races, or ‘heats’, of six to seven boats, and then two final championship rounds.


The boats, which must be made entirely using cardboard, specific types of paint or polyurethane, and duct tape according to the United Way rulebook, were manned by two or three person teams on the circular track.

Some companies such as Grand Design had as many as nine boats competing, while others had just one.

The first championship round, what the organization calls their “Cardboard Crusader Challenge Race”, is for any boats that didn’t win the first race they were in, but were still floating, said Ashley Bowen, campaign relationship manager for United Way of Elkhart County.

Some 24 boats from various organizations were able to take part in the challenge, which was won by a team from Utilimaster.

Bowen said that Utilimaster has won the trophy for challenger three years in a row.

Each year the trophy for the challenger race is custom made by Welch Packaging, a major sponsor of the event.

This year’s trophy was a model of a pirate ship.


The second, the Championship Race, was for the winners of their initial heat.

Eight teams competed in the final race, including a team from last year’s winners, Bail Home Services, but Utilimaster took the Championship trophy as well, “in their boat piloted by Sean Ross and Casy Hoffman,” said Matt Whitman, a representative of the company at the event.

The championship trophy is passed down each year from one winner to the next, Bowens said, and a small plaque for each organization and the year they won is added.

The event had raised more than $65,000 for United Way by the end of festivities at 4:30, according to their online fundraising campaign tracker.

Held at LaSalle Bristol Pond in front of the United Way of Elkhart County and LaSalle Bristol’s offices on C.R. 17, there were also four food trucks and games including cornhole, disc golf and ping pong.