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Fundraiser for PADDLE program has participants stranded in canoe raise funds

The team from Providing Adults With Developmental Disabilities Lifelong Experiences -- PADDLE for short -- sent participants onto Trout Lake in a canoe without a paddle Friday afternoon.

While on the water, they have to raise money to “buy” a paddle in order to return to shore. The fundraiser is called the Up The Creek Without A Paddle.

With her lifejacket tightly secured, Katie Calcaterra climbed into the canoe and drifted out into the bay. She was making cold calls and sending texts to friends and family asking for money to support the PADDLE program.

“I've got two phones and I’ve got my sister helping me as well,” she said.

“I've known PADDLE and PADDLE participants since the beginning."

Money from the fundraiser goes back to the program to run its activities. Calcaterra participated in the fundraiser on behalf of CTS Canadian Career College.

“Many of our students do their placements at PADDLE and PADDLE employs a lot of people in the community,” she said.

“To keep an organization going, it continually needs funds.”

Earlier this year, PADDLE received one-time funding and it’s being used to address the ever-growing waitlist for the program. Currently more than 30 adults from North Bay and surrounding area are enrolled.

“It's about giving people choices and empowering people to understand what they can do in and for their community and for the community to understand we are all valuable,” said PADDLE executive director Megan Johnson.The team from Providing Adults With Developmental Disabilities Lifelong Experiences -- PADDLE for short -- sent participants onto Trout Lake in a canoe without a paddle Friday afternoon. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

This initiative is in its 16th year and has collected several hundred thousand dollars. James Nadeau knows the program all too well, having been in it for 15 years.

"It's been awesome and it's nice to be here with all my family here at the beach,” he said.

Johnson said the adults enrolled don’t have the same opportunities for a college education. So the program helps adults with developmental and/or physical disabilities with school, physical fitness, life skills, recreation, leisure and community involvement.

“You can do anything at PADDLE. You can use it for whatever you want,” she said.

“It's a community of people who already love you and you might not even know yet."

When is all said and done and when the boats are back on the beach, PADDLE is hoping to collect $20,000. 

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