One Square Mile of Hope Event Sets New World Record

Breast cancer fundraiser retakes lead in race to create the world's largest raft of canoes and kayaks

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Above: World record by Hashtag. Check out the event's Instagram photos tagged to #OneSquareMileofHope

By Mike Lynch

The One Square Mile of Hope breast cancer fundraiser looks like it has regained the Guinness World Record for the largest raft of canoes, kayaks and guide boats.

Despite rain and 50-degree temperatures, more than 2,700 boats came together at about noon Saturday on Fourth Lake in Inlet, New York, a tiny town of about 330 people in the Adirondack Mountains. The previous record of 2,099 boats was set last year by a group on Sutton's Bay on Lake Michigan.

"Unofficially we have a count of 2718 (boats)," said organizer Carolyn Belknap. "It may be quite a bit more than that."

The Inlet event was organized by the One Square Mile of Hope 2014 Committee and the Kiwanis Club of the Central Adirondacks.

Belknap said her group will come up with an official number by counting the boats using an aerial photograph taken by Nancie Battaglia.

"Last time the gentleman who did it used a hole puncher (on each boat)," Belknap said. "Then he counted all the holes."

The raft, held together only by hands, fulfilled a Guinness rule by free-floating for at least 30 seconds. A seaplane carrying Battaglia flew overhead, allowing her to photograph it. A second plane piloted by local pilot Jim Payne carried videographer Lori Diemer. Earlier videographer Eric Mishalanie, with the assistance of Casey Hamlin, recorded the entry process as each boat picked up a numbered sticker and moved into the raft-up area.

The video and photographic evidence will be sent off to London in a few days so that Guinness can verify the accuracy of the count.

This would be the third time the Inlet-based fundraiser has broken the record. In 2008, the Inlet group put together a raft of 1,104 boats, beating the previous record of 776 boats joining together on Hinckley Lake in Cleveland in 2001.

Inlet's record stood until 2010 when a group of 1,619 boats got together in the waters off Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In 2011, Inlet regained the status of world champs with 1902 boats. That record stood until the group from Sutton's Bay broke it.

The most recent effort included boats from 30 states, two Canadian Provinces, Thailand and Belgium.

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While creating the large raft of boats is a fun time for those involved, the real reason for the event is to raise money for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This year more than $100,000 was raised through registration fees, auctions and other activities.

Joe Moore, owner of Placid Boatworks in Lake Placid, participated in the raft and donated one of his canoes for an auction associated with the event. Moore said he wanted to help out because "it's a great cause" and he's known a lot of people that have battled cancer.

"We just wanted to do what we could do to help the research effort find a cure," he said.

See a video from the 2014 One Square Mile of Hope event here: