ATHENS — Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the risks of spreading the disease associated with large group events, Georgia River Network has cancelled Paddle Georgia, its annual weeklong canoe/kayak river adventure and is encouraging supporters to “create their own trip to support Georgia’s rivers.”

“We’re rolling out Paddle Georgia Pandemic Edition,” said Rena Peck, Georgia River Network’s executive director. “We can’t paddle together as a large group, but we can still paddle individually with our families or other small groups. And getting on the water is good for us. The healing connection to nature makes us feel better emotionally and contributes to our physical well-being. Our goal is to collectively log more than 4,000 miles on Georgia’s rivers this summer to keep us and our rivers healthy.”

Participants can register for Paddle Georgia 2020 Pandemic Edition online at

The registration fee is $50 and includes a Paddle Georgia Pandemic Edition-branded T-shirt, facemask and boat decal. Participants are encouraged to plan their own river adventure between May 15 and Aug. 6, document it with photos and video and share it on social media using the hashtag #PaddleGeorgiaPandemic.

The original event, which serves as the organization’s largest fundraiser, was set for June 20-27 on the Flint River, following a route from near Thomaston to Oglethorpe. More than 300 people were expected to participate, making the event the largest weeklong canoe/kayak camping adventure in the country. Organizers have re-scheduled the event for June 19-26, 2021 on the same route.

“There’s not really a substitute for the camaraderie that we experience on Paddle Georgia,” Joe Cook who coordinates the annual event, said. “But we can still connect with and celebrate our rivers individually.”

Supporters are also encouraged to join in the Paddle Georgia Canoe-a-thon in which participants solicit donations to Georgia River Network from friends, family and business associates based on the number of river miles they paddle this summer.

With more than $4,000 already raised, the organization has set a goal of generating more than $40,000 by Aug. 6.

In an effort to support families impacted by the economic crisis that has accompanied the pandemic, 10 percent of the proceeds from the canoe-a-thon will be directed to nonprofit organizations in the Flint River basin that are assisting families in need with paying their utility bills.

“These same families would have benefited from Paddle Georgia’s economic impact on local communities had the event been held as planned,” Peck said. “So this year’s canoe-a-thon will not only protect rivers, it will keep clean, safe water flowing to needy families.”

Paddle Georgia Pandemic Edition will culminate Aug. 6 with Georgia River Network’s Livestream for Healthy Rivers, a live stream concert from Atlanta musician Rob Jordan featuring kayak raffles, a live auction, river trivia and recognition of top fundraisers in the canoe-a-thon.

Georgia River Network is the state’s only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to protecting the state’s rivers and promoting recreation use of those rivers. It organizes the annual event to bring attention to rivers and promote the development of recreational boating trails.

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