On September 18, 160 people and 38 boats gathered in Grand Bend for the 3rd Annual John Patterson Dinghy Life Poker Run. When the day was over, more than $6,200 had been raised to support the Grand Women Fund at Sunset Community Foundation.
The event is a project of Dinghy Life, a group of young professionals who love Grand Bend, have been friends for years, and like planning fun activities to support the community. It started as a way to honor John Patterson, whose son Matt is one of the organizers. “My father was a popular guy in Grand Bend, he loved boating, and he knew most of the boating people, so a boating event was a natural.”
During the event, dinghy teams travel up the Parkhill Creek, stopping at five docks along the way. At each dock, they complete a challenge. This year, one involved doing a karaoke performance. For each completed challenge, the participants receive a poker card, and the best hand wins.
The Best Dressed Dinghy competition was hotly contested this year, with Tom and Elaine Hayter’s boat winning with the crew of six dressed as Roman ladies and their gladiator companions. The runner-up boat, dubbed the Flamingo Dingoes, featured lots of gorgeous pink plumage. Crews adjourned to Best Friends Pizza to celebrate when the Run was over.
“We raised a lot of money,” says Patterson, “but the event is really about getting together and having fun. Because we’re a close community, people just naturally want to give.” This year, each dock was sponsored by a local business, and 12 other businesses donated prizes. Says Patterson: “There are such great businesses in Grand Bend, and they really stepped up.”
Judy McDonald, Matt’s mother, is a former Chair of the Sunset Community Foundation, and honorary chair of the Grand Women Fund. “I’m delighted that the money raised will go into the fund,” she says. “It will enable us to do more to support our community, now and for many years to come.” The Grand Women Fund was created in 2018 with donations from more than 70 local women. The Fund supported the Huron Women’s Shelter in 2020, and the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre in 2019.