Lapeer’s Kiwanis Club adjusts plans, fundraising during COVID-19

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Kiwanis Club Lapeer

The ticket for the Kiwanis Rubber Duck Dash event that will be happening in September.

When the Flint River flows through Crampton Park, don’t be surprised if you see a rubber duck flowing along with it. That duck is only there to contribute to the future of the children of Lapeer. 

Kara Lambourn, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Lapeer, said that there are Kiwanis Clubs that operate all over the country. Kiwanis Club of Lapeer is a small part of a large nonprofit that hosts annual fundraisers. All of the proceeds from the fundraisers are given to local organizations and causes in support of their efforts with children in the community. Due to  COVID-19, some of the events have been canceled and other events are still being decided on whether or not to happen.

“We had to cancel Kiwanis Kapers this year which is one of our larger events,” Lambourn said. “For the first time in 73 years, this talent show didn’t happen and it always brings in a lot of money and laughter.”

Jillian Felton / Michigan State University

The message the Kiwanis Club shared about the Kiwanis Kapers event being canceled because of COVID-19.

During September, Lambourn said that The Kiwanis Club of Lapeer is still trying to host the Rubber Duck Dash at Crampton Park. Before the event happens, people of the community can purchase a rubber duck and it is then set afloat along the Flint River. Even if you don’t win the race, the event has other fun activities like face paintings and balloon animals. 

“This our newest event and it attracts around 500 to 1,000 people,” Lambourn said. “Even though the event happens outside, we still are unsure if it will be able to happen because of COVID-19 crowd guidelines.”

Not only does the club host their own fundraising events, they also sponsor other non-profit organization’s fundraiser events. One of the organizations that they sponsor is the Family Literacy Center, which operates in the thumb area of Michigan to provide tutoring to adults and kids in the area. Mary Wiese, a board member at the Family Literacy Center, said that the Kiwanis Club has sponsored the Camel Race for the past 20 years. 

“The camel back race is where we race wooden horses against each other and sponsors decorate them to represent their businesses and Kiwanis has been a part of the camel races since the first year it started,” Wiese said.

The Camel Race is a loud and rambunctious event with usually 300-400 people attending Wiese said. The Family Literacy Center’s annual auction that Kiwanis also sponsors is a lot more calm than the big race.

Jillian Felton / Michigan State University

A Facebook event showing The Family Literacy Center’s Camel Races listed as canceled due to COVID-19.

“Before the race we have the sponsors stand on the starting line and we are able to talk about them and promote them, which makes it different from other events,” Wiese said. “At the auction we talk about the sponsors but we don’t have people stand on chairs and scream the sponsors name and cheer them on like we do at the Camel Race.” 

The impact that the Kiwanis Club has is a positive one for people who have been members of the club as well. Regina Starr, founder and President of the Forever Friends Network, said that when she was involved with Kiwanis the members of the club pushed her towards what she is passionate about, running her own autism resource center. Forever Friends Network is a nonprofit organization that provides resources for families that deal with autism. 

“Being a part of the club gave me a platform to speak about Forever Friends Network and become better at public speaking in general,” Starr said. “A couple years ago when I first was involved in the club I told them I wasn’t good at running my website and a member of the club helped me put it together.”

The club helped her find the drive to get the operation that she has been running for the past 12 years really get a kick off. This year Starr even won Lapeer’s Citizen of the Year Award because of the good work she has done with Forever Friends Network.

“Kiwanis made me come out of my shell and they taught me a lot about myself, they were big supporters of me running Forever Friends Network,” Starr said. “A couple of members said the first time we met you to now, you are a totally different person.” 

Starr and Wiese both expressed that The Kiwanis Club of Lapeer is a well-respected and inviting club in the community by those who have had a chance to be involved with it.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful group of people, they’re incredible business leaders and have a wonderful sense of wanting to support the community,” Wiese said. “It’s truly one of the best service clubs I have ever seen.”

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