Georgia River Network wants Georgians to visit the state’s rivers, and in 2023 the organization is offering up more than $8000 in prizes and more than 220 miles of canoe/kayak/paddleboard adventures to entice them to explore the state’s expanding water trail system.
The prizes are part of the organization’s Paddle-A-Thon competition in which participants compete against one another in more than a dozen categories, including most miles paddled, most trash removed, and most kayak fishing trips.
Among the prizes up for grabs in the competition are a $500 gift certificate from Public Lands in Kennesaw (most trash removed); a $250 gift certificate from Nestle-Purina (most miles paddled with your pet) and a $500 gift certificate from Cedar Creek Outdoor Center in Hiram (most miles paddled). Additionally, the top ten contestants who raise the most money for river protection will vie for a host of prizes, including a $1000 grand prize—a gift certificate from Cedar Creek Outdoor Center.
“People who venture out on our state’s rivers inevitably want to see those rivers protected; that’s why we want people out exploring our rivers,” said Rena Peck, Georgia River Network executive director, “Our annual Paddle-A-Thon is one of our most important fundraisers and this year, in celebration of the organization’s 25th anniversary, we are expanding the Paddle-A-Thon competition to include non-fundraising categories and get more people involved in our river movement.”
The Paddle-A-Thon competition kicked off with the New Year and runs through Sept. 6. Winners will be announced at the organization’s 25th anniversary celebration in the fall. The organization hopes to generate more than $50,000 for river protection and water trail development through the event.
Contestants are asked to log their paddle trips at Georgia River Network's Paddle-A-Thon website; regular updates will be posted to track the top paddlers.
In addition to individual competitions, contestants can organize teams to compete for prizes including a paddle trip and dinner party for up to 25 people courtesy of the Georgia River Network.
Participants can register to compete and view a full list of prize categories and prizes at https://www.mightycause.com/event/Paddleathon. Potential paddle routes can be found on the organization’s Georgia River Guide App, a comprehensive guide to more than 30 designated water trails across the state. The app is available for free in Google and Apple app stores.
“We know there are paddlers out there that logged nearly 1,000 miles on Georgia’s rivers in 2022,” said Peck. “Paddle-A-Thon gives everyone a chance to use the miles they paddle to protect the rivers they love.”
Paddle-A-Thon registration fees are $35 and include a year’s membership in Georgia River Network, a Paddle-A-Thon bandana and a $20 discount to participate in one of Georgia River Network’s river adventure trips or kayaking skills/water safety classes during 2023.
The organization has 17 on-water events planned for 2023, including its signature event, Paddle Georgia 2023, a week-long, 100-mile journey on the Savannah River set for June 24-July 1. The unique educational adventure is considered the largest week-long canoe/kayak camping journey in the country; more than 250 people are expected to participate.
The river adventures kick off March 30-April 2 with a two-day, two-night, 22-mile excursion on the Satilla River in southeast Georgia. The trip hits the peak of the wild azalea blooming season along the banks of the winding blackwater river and features catered meals and nightly education programs. More information can be found at https://garivers.org/paddle-georgia/spring-on-the-satilla/
Kayaking classes begin May 7 with courses planned at Bear Creek Marina on Lake Jackson in Jasper County.
Additional river adventures are set for the Little, Flint, Chattahoochee, Chestatee, and Suwannee rivers. A full slate of the organization’s events can be viewed at https://garivers.org/calendar-2/.
Businesses donating prizes for the Paddle-A-Thon include Cedar Creek Outdoor Center, Public Lands, Crescent Kayaks, Westbrook Supply Co., Nestle-Purina, Wildwater Rafting, Southeast Adventure Outfitters, Oconee Outfitters, The Hike Inn, Patagonia, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Based in Athens, Georgia River Network is a 501c3 organization that works to help everyone enjoy, connect with and advocate for economically vital and clean flowing rivers.