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United Way of Southwest Michigan’s “Rock The Boat” In Need of Teams for July 11th Event

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United Way of Southwest Michigan’s “Rock The Boat” In Need of Teams for July 11th Event


The organization has a goal of reaching at least 30 boat registrations before the deadline of Friday, June 21. The event serves as the official start of “campaign season” for United Way of Southwest Michigan


United Way of Southwest Michigan is calling on the local community to help us meet and exceed the goal of 30 boats to race in the Rock The Boat Cardboard Boat Races, set to take place Thursday, July 11, 2024 at the Inn at Harbor Shores in St. Joseph.


“Our past event in 2019 was incredible,” said Anna Murphy, President & CEO of United Way of Southwest Michigan. “The participation and excitement from both the racers and the spectators was truly electric. We are looking forward to bringing that same energy back in 2024, but we need the boats and the competition from our teams!”


This unique event, which features life-size boats made entirely of cardboard, will be raced in heats in the river channel for spectators to see in-person and online at, with the goal of raising funds for United Way of Southwest Michigan, and having a bit of fun. With 75 total spots available for competing teams, the races are expected to draw crowds of up to 3,000 people, building on the success of the previous event held in 2019.


“This event is only fun if we have some spirited competition!” states Zack East, Senior Director of Organizational Sustainability, and past emcee of the event. “We want engineers and manufacturers, bankers and lawyers, farmers and landscapers, doctors and nurses, and anyone else that wants to call up their friends and competitors for an afternoon of fun for a good cause.”


Registration is only open through Friday, June 21st, and prospective participants can easily sign up online at After registration, the teams will be added to Rock the Boat’s peer-to-peer voting platform, allowing teams to receive monetary donations toward their chance to win either the Captain’s Award for the most dollars raised, or the People’s Choice Award for the most individual donors. Voting is available prior to, and during the event. Proceeds from the event go directly to United Way of Southwest Michigan’s 2024 campaign, and the employee campaigns of participating employers.


Boat builders can visit BOSS Services on M-139 in Benton Harbor and United Container Company on Hawthorne in St. Joseph for cardboard supplies.


For spectators, the event is free to attend, though a donation is appreciated. Great food & drink from Plank's Tavern on the Water at the Inn at Harbor Shores will be available, as well as food trucks from Ben’s Pretzels and The Brick House. The event will be hosted by Our Lady of the Lake Athletic Director & WSJM Sports’ Phil McDonald, with technical support presented by Little Red Fern Productions, and TPC Technologies.


“Not only will this event serve as a great way to enjoy a summer day on the river channel, it’s also the kickoff of campaign season for United Way,” says Xay Somsanith, Director of Campaign for United Way of Southwest Michigan. “Many of our local employers and sponsors will be using this event to kick off their fundraising efforts, and we love the enthusiasm they have.” Employers in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties can start their own campaign easily by going to for resources and details on impact in our local communities.


The United Way Rock the Boat team would like to also thank our sponsors: Mid-West Family Southwest Michigan, JV Studios, Honor Credit Union, Silver Beach Pizza, North Pier Brewing Company, BOSS Services, Curi RMB Capital, Holtec International, Lake Michigan College, and Ravitron, with support from Pepsi, United Container Company, the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber, the Inn at Harbor Shores, and Competitive Edge.


About United Way of Southwest Michigan
United Way of Southwest Michigan works to sustain a united community where everyone contributes, belongs and thrives. We harness resources from corporate, nonprofit, and public partners to address our community's most pressing challenges and make lasting change. Join us in giving, advocacy, and volunteering by visiting

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