swan paddleboat

Ten pair of young leaders selected to pilot swan boats in this year’s Lakeland Derby have an audacious goal — not to finish the race, but to raise $55,000 for Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine.

The new goal — a large leap from the $40,000+ raised last year — was announced today by Kathryn Bevilacqua-Ely, the “Mama Swan” overseeing this year’s 10 Leaders of Polk teams competing in the derby.

She was one of the speakers at a news conference following a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored “Nod to Nonprofits” tour to acquaint members with the work of LVIM, formed in 2001 to provide free medical care to the working uninsured of Polk County. (Learn more in Ledger coverage from the tour.)

Scenes from this morning’s announcement:

The 11th running of the Lakeland Derby takes place April 27 at Lake Mirror with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. The free event, which attracts 4,000 people yearly, will include live music, fireworks, kids activities and three paddleboat races:

  • A sponsors race between teams representing the event’s corporate sponsors.
  • A youth-oriented race pairing high school students and staff members.
  • The Leaders of Polk race involving the 10 teams that will compete to raise the most funds for the event.

The Lakeland Derby is the major annual fund-raising event for LVIM, an organization that relies on donations and grants. It receives no federal funds, Development Director Alice Koehler said at today’s announcement.

Sponsors include Publix Super Markets Charities, Rooms to Go Foundation, Junior League of Greater Lakeland, Harrell’s, Sanlan RV and Golf Resort and Southern Homes.

Teams and team leaders announced so far include:

Learn more about Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine:

2017 LVIM Promo Video from Sonia Browning on Vimeo.

A LkldTV video from last year’s “Silks and Swans” pre-Lakeland Derby event:

YouTube Poster

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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