AP NEWS

Desert Storm boaters offer lake rides for people with disabilities

April 19, 2018

For Lake Havasu City’s disabled youth and adults, Desert Storm came early this week for a worthy cause.

Participants in this year’s annual Desert Storm Poker Run and Shootout arrived at London Bridge Resort on Wednesday, where about 150 of Havasu’s mentally or physically disabled adults and children were waiting. Pontoons and cruisers, high-octane performance boats and patrol watercraft gathered passengers from the crowd and took them out for an afternoon of excitement on Lake Havasu.

The “Krusin’ for Kids” event has been a part of Desert Storm’s Charity Day and Kick Off Party for the past seven years, inviting residents of New Horizons, Mile Markers and Rise therapy centers to enjoy a day on the water, followed by a barbecue hosted by the London Bridge Resort. About 35 of Desert Storm’s boaters assisted with the event, as well as 50 volunteers from the Havasu community.

Organizers Christina Nichols and Jimmy Nichols orchestrated the event.

“It’s a neat event,” Jimmy Nichols said. “Everyone’s energetic. Boat owners have donated their time and money for charity. A lot of people here have been around Desert Storm forever, and they’re willing to dive in wherever they can to help out. People love it. It’s a kickoff for the whole weekend, and it’s for charity.”

Proceeds from Wednesday’s events, including “Krusin for Kids” and a silent auction on Wednesday morning, will be donated to Mile Markers Therapy and the American Cancer Society.

“It’s an unexpected feeling when you give back to people,” Christina Nichols said. “It’s evolved into a huge event now.”

For boater and part-time Havasu resident Steven Sundling, “Krusin’ for Kids” is one of the highlights of Desert Storm. Sundling and his family volunteered to take disabled children and adults for a ride in his high-performance watercraft this Wednesday, and dressed in pirate costumes for the occasion. Every passenger who rode on Sundling’s ship received a bag of goodies including T-shirts and pirate bandanas.

“We spent all last weekend putting the pirate bags together,” Sundling said. “For me, it’s my favorite part of the five days we’re out here for Desert Storm. Helping out kids, seeing them smile and the smiles of their parents on the shore … it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Havasu resident Lynn Blankman’s 31-year-old son was among the passengers during the event. “He was up at 7:30 a.m., ready to go,” Blankman said. “He was pretty excited. I think it’s awesome that people took the time to let people and kids get in. Not everyone would do this. For the disabled, it’s a chance for them to get to act normal.”

Sara Arnold, of New Horizons Center in Havasu, has volunteered at the event for three years. “Their generosity and willingness to give their time means a lot to people with disabilities,” Arnold said. “They’re a generous group.”

The event was sponsored by graphicINK, Savage Marine, the London Bridge Resort, Bio-Kleen, Kicker Motorsports and Teague Custom Marine.