NEW FRANKLIN  The Sun was bright and the lakewater cold Sept. 10 for Two Men and a Truck’s second annual Cardboard Boat Race at Turkeyfoot Beach in the Portage Lakes. The event marks the start of Two Men and Truck’s yearly Movers for Mutts fundraising campaign to benefit One of Kind Pets Rescue.

One of Kind Pets Rescue is the largest no-kill animal shelter in Summit County and last year they placed more than 2,600 cats and dogs in homes. For the Cardboard Boat Race, local business sponsor boats and that money goes directly to the pet rescue. More than $2,500 was expected to be raised along with more than 300 items such as blankets, dog and cat food and pet toys.

In addition watching the water-logged cardboard boats struggle to stay afloat, attendees could interact with the dogs brought from the One of a Kind Pet shelter, have a hot dog from the Sassy Dog Food Truck, and enjoy the music playing from the 97.5 WONE tent who hosted the event. 

"We just thought this would be a really fun way to bring dogs out here and take advantage of Akron and the Portage Lakes area and combine this with a fun kickoff event," said Jessica Chapman, marketing specialist for Two Men and a Truck in Akron.

To complete the race, those in the boats would have to row almost 100 feet out from the beach, touch a buoy and head back. The first team with all its members on the beach would win. But coming in first wasn’t the only merit awarded to the racers. Teams could also win the Titanic award for best-sunk ship, the speed award for the fastest boat, the crowd favorite award or the best-themed boat. The first place team won a puppy play date in which One of a Kind Pets brings puppies out to the winning business.  

Among the teams was the crew from Orangetheory Fitness in Wallhaven.

"Got a pontoon boat here. Have a little bit smaller pontoons than normal but were gonna use that to our advantage. We expect this thing to float for miles," said Travis Kauffman of Orangetheory Fitness in mock seriousness that elicited laughs from his teammates. "We’re always down to do new stuff and make a fool of ourselves. We have life jackets so we know we’ll stay afloat. It’s about having fun, coming out and getting some exposure for our fitness facility and having fun with it."

Orangetheory Fitness spent most of the race paddling with just their heads poking out of the water above their submerged vessel. They finished the race by dragging their destroyed ship ashore.

Other cardboard boat teams included businesses such as Peoples Bank, Crooked River Garage, Burning River Adventures, Pull-A-Part, and Bucket List Adventures

"We seriously thought we a great boat to win the speed race until we couldn’t get a good start, so we’ll settle for Titanic because it was at least fun," Said Brandy Noll, owner of Bucket List Adventures speaking of her team’s award winning sink. "It’s an awesome event. I love how they integrate the dogs in here and it’s a great location to have an event. Portage Lakes is a great place to hold events and do fun things like this. Well put together. We loved it. We’ll probably be back next year."