Rock the Boat helps the United Way stay afloat

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - It was sink or swim. Well, for some, it was mostly sink. But it was all for a good cause.

“Most importantly, all of the money that we raise today goes to United Way of Southwestern Michigan,” Whirpool Vice President of U.S. Sales Dave Cichocki said. “It stays right here in Berrien and Cass counties, where there's so much need.”

Where does the money go?

“The funds go to four basic areas: income to helping people get jobs, basic needs, health and education, so it stays right here in the community.” Cichocki said. “Then, there's a partner agencies bank that the money goes to help people in need.”

It was United Way's fourth annual Rock The Boat at the Inn at Harbor Shores.

The event has skyrocketed in recent years.

“Rock the Boat has become a tremendous fundraiser for us,” Director of Annual Campaign Charlotte Becker said. “We didn't expect it to grow as rapidly as it did. The first year, we had five boats. Now, we have 75. So, you can see that the community loves it. The more they love it, the more funds come in, and we're really excited about that.”

Seventy-five boats made of cardboard and duct tape took the water.

Some glided across the course while others barely stayed afloat.

The Coast Guard was on hand for all the men overboard.

So what does it take to win Rock the Boat?

“A little bit of prayer, a little bit of luck and, hopefully, a boat that doesn't leak,” Cichocki said.

While this event has already set sail, it's not too early to begin crafting for next year.

“People should get involved, because this is one of the easiest ways to give back to your community with United Way,” Becker said. “Whirlpool has enabled us to get the entire community involved, so everyone's welcome. We would love new boats to sign up next year.”