Remember these guys? Well, the taped trio is it again: The engineer, chemist, and communications major are out planning on paddling their duct tape kayak in the hopes of raising money for another charity. Last year, the goal was to raise funds for cancer research. The crew raised $1,200 for Stand Up To Cancer. This year, Dave Arruda, 27, and his friends Brett Muirhead, 21, and Alex Russo, 23, have chosen Heroes on the Water (HOW), a non-profit whose mission is to help wounded veterans by taking them kayak fishing.
Along with the change in charity, the boat has changed, both in size and color. The previous half-inch PVC pipe, gray and pink duct-tape kayak was 19 feet long and 22 inches wide. Over the winter the crew redesigned the Greenland-style boat to paddle faster. An additional foot to the length allows a reshaped hull to displace water faster (versus just pushing it out of the way). Even so, the previous model placed third in the 2012 Slocum River Regatta, piloted by Russo.
Duck Brand, one of the team’s sponsors who provided all the tape that is the kayak’s skin, along with others such as Seattle Sports and MTI Adventurewear, helped make this year's design possible. The freedom-flaunting deck of the boat is modeled after Old Glory herself. The red, white, and blue flag design honors the veterans for whom these three hope to raise money. "It looks so good people are passing by without realizing what it actually is made out of," says Arruda.
When asked why they chose to change charities, Arruda says the money they raised last year, "felt like a drop in the bucket when working with a larger charity." He went on to say that Jim Dolan, founder of HOW, has been hands-on with the fundraising. "In smaller charities you can really see the difference you are making. With the $2,000 goal we have set for ourselves, they can buy kayaks and other paddling gear for the veterans."
After the last project, they felt that people thought the duct tape kayak was all about them, a kind of "look at us" feeling. "That's not why we are doing this," Arruda states. "It's about the veterans. We really want people to know about this program."
It's that direct link to the veterans that the three like so much. HOW is little-known in New England. By doing this fundraising project they hope to raise awareness for a program whose website states, "Heroes on the Water serves wounded warriors by taking them kayak fishing in the outdoors as a way for them to relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate into society."
If you happen to be in Plymouth, Mass., for the Plymouth Waterfront Festival on Aug. 24, look for the red, white, and blue kayak. It'll be there.