Which it actually is. It began as a small group’s desire to raise money for local veterans by asking people to pass the hat at parties. They named their effort the What A Country Challenge, and interest grew like wildfire.
The effort then joined forces with the annual Discovery Bay Paddle for Fame, scheduled for the same day, June 27 (this Saturday), at the Discovery Bay Marina. That effort, to be documented in a flyover and parachute drop, hopes to maintain a record for the most human-powered vessels linked together, a mark Discovery Bay has held for two years.
“We actually have a waterfront community in Florida that has challenged us for the title this year, so we’re hoping to beat their record and send them a Discovery Bay T-shirt,” said Amanda Dove, an event sponsor. Boardwalk Bar and Grill, another sponsor, will provide paddleboaters a free lunch.
Red Barn Hotrods then jumped on board, putting together a Hot Rod and Motorcycle show that owner Pam Munkelt said could total 100 entrants. The show will be held at the Discovery Bay Marina at the same time as the Paddle for Fame, and all proceeds from the Car and Motorcycle show will go to What A Country.
There’s a $5,800 red, white and blue hot tub being raffled off for $5 per ticket. Special magnums of wine specially numbered and labeled in honor of Army Spc. Joey Graves, a Discovery Bay resident killed in Iraq in 2006. Countless other items will be sold either at the Marina or at one of the other, private What A Country parties that have spun off.
“When we first started it, I had no idea of (peoples’) generosity, and the nerve you hit when you start talking about raising money for the troops,” said Frank Morgan, who leads a team of residents putting the effort together. “It gives me a new sense of hope that people really do still love this country, and appreciate the sacrifices being made by the men and women of our armed forces.”
The money raised by the What A Country Challenge will be distributed to local veterans and veteran service groups. One of the beneficiaries will be the Anthonys, a family of five from Knightsen. The family has undergone serious financial strain in the wake of major medical problems afflicting the mother, Sandy, and father, Don, a Navy veteran.
Also benefiting will be Martin Wise of Oakley, whose cancer is terminal and who has been unable to work or afford insurance for his wife since 2001. He is a veteran of the Coast Guard.
The Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans Memorial Building in Brentwood, Delta Blue Star Moms and Homes for Troops are also beneficiaries. It’s unclear how much will be raised, partly because it’s not known how many private parties will be thrown in the coming days.
Donations to the cause, which Morgan hopes to make an annual drive, can be made at any time through the event Web site, www.whatacountrychallenge.com Brief biographies of the recipients are also there, and donations made through the Web site will be issued a tax-deductible receipt.
The Car and Motorcycle Show runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Paddle for Fame kicks off at 11 a.m., and the official flyover is set for 1 p.m. sharp. After that, said Morgan, folks should finish the day with a bash of their own at home – his own invitation-only party will host several hundred people – then log on and make a contribution.
But even without the follow-up bash, there will be plenty going on.
“This is going to be an amazing event,” said Dove. “It’s really just a chance for everyone to come on out and celebrate all that is Discovery Bay.”