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Racers learn life lessons at Regatta



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Team RUSH volunteer Jimmy Holmes prepares to start the race between Team 5, Regan Havens, Allie Ullrich, Dani Adkins, and Michael Campbell, and Team 1, Ben Helgeson, Jacob Kornas, Matt Huhta, and Jan Helgeson. (click for larger version)

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From left, Team 3, Jonah Sementkowski, Nick Lee, Andrea Vedrody, Matt Huhta, Harry Smith, Andy McLatcher, and Eric Schultz, get to paddling. Photos by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
August 18, 2010 - Racers stayed mostly dry at this year's RUSH Regatta, as their homemade boats stayed together even after multiple heats.

Not bad for cardboard and duct tape.

"These kids are getting the idea, it's very cool," said Kyle Hughes, Team RUSH leader, at the Aug. 14 event. "They were more competitive with each other this year."

Students designed and built boats, contacted local businesses and community groups for sponsorships, and prepared presentations for volunteer judges on what they learned.

"The kids worked really hard," said Wendy McFalda, judge. "The presentations were more polished. They seemed to have started much earlier."

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"Overall, very high quality this year – they look good," said judge Curt Carson. "They really went out into the community. They got as much in sponsorships as last year, even in this economy."

Family and friends lined the shore of Deer Lake for the races, including Paula Lafata, whose son, Team RUSH student John Lafata, passed away in 2007.

"We keep in contact with the team – they've become family," said Paula, who now presents a John Lafata Heart Scholarship to a graduating senior each year. "John was going to be in the first one – his brother took his place."

Race finished, Team RUSH students are working on sponsorships for their "back to school supplies" event for students in need in the district, Sept. 1. They provided supplies to more than 100 students last year, Hughes said.

For more information, check www.teamrush27.net.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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