Saturdays Are For The Kids

Saturdays Are For The Kids

What do you call a pirate with two eyes and two legs?

A rookie...but you won’t find many of them at Vancouver’s annual Boat For Hope.

Why? Because over the past 24 years the event has created semi-professional pirates out of Vancouver’s local Mustang Survival water community, while hosting a fun event for kids with special needs to experience the joy of living a life beyond land.

kids and family aboard a pirate ship in vancouver

How It All Started

A sunny weekend afternoon in 1998, James Safronek and Rick Cassels (a longtime Mustang Survival team member) were out for an afternoon in Vancouver’s False Creek. Chatting over a meal and a drink, James started reflecting on how lucky he felt to have access to experiences on the water - particularly, on a boat.

What he was chewing on that day was the beginnings of Boat For Hope; a now annual event that’s been happening for over two decades.

Wanting to make the complete joy of being on the water accessible to kids who otherwise wouldn’t get the opportunity, James pulled together a small group of people heavily involved in the boating community to talk.

The idea: take 400 to 500 kids with special needs out on the water, and make a day completely dedicated to them.

three kids playing with water guns

Bringing Variety Children’s Charity into the mix as their partner, they watched the community step up and step in; volunteering time, donating products and helping remove barriers to the event being a wild success.

And so, on the second Saturday in June, 1999, the first Boat For Hope took place - and has been a huge part of the Vancouver marine community’s annual events ever since.

Take a look at what it’s all about...

While the event raises funds for the Variety Children’s Charity, it’s no traditional fundraiser….this is a FUNraiser; focused on creating an experience for the kids they now look forward to every year (some of them, more than Christmas).

Time on the water and the feeling of living beyond land is something we hope every human—of any age or ability—gets to experience.

About to celebrate its 24th year, nothing has changed; the community still steps up to support the day, and shows up with energy and enthusiasm as they turn Vancouver’s inner harbour into a pirate-inspired scene. And the kids still smile from ear to ear, all day long.

And whether James knew it or not, bringing these kids to the water is something that creates ripple effects far and beyond that second Saturday in June.

Learn more about Boat For Hope, reach out to volunteer, participate or donate.

boat for hope by variety


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