An annual canoe float Sunday down the Eel River will raise money for a young girl’s future college education.
Doug Spualding and his wife Barb Spaulding started the Lilly Float in 2011, a year after Lilly Magers’ father and Doug’s son, Robert “Bob” Spaulding, was murdered in his Indianapolis home.
Barb Spaulding said two men broke in to rob the home, then one of the men shot Bob Spaulding in the back. Lilly was two years old at the time, and in the home.
The Spauldings wanted to start an annual fundraiser to support their granddaughter Lilly, Barb Spaulding said, and they connected it with canoeing.
That became the Spauldings’ nonprofit Canoes for Causes, which donates the use of canoes to various area events. They had the first float for Lilly in 2011 about the same time as the first anniversary of Bob Spaulding’s death.
For the fourth annual float this year, Barb Spaulding said Lilly will be there for the festivities — as she’s now 6 years old.
The float lasts from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. It doesn’t cost any money to float, but the Spauldings are asking for a donation from participants.
“You can pay a dollar or you can pay $10 or $20, whatever you can afford or feel like you can give,” Barb Spaulding said.
The money goes into a 529 college savings plan for Lilly. Barb Spaulding said they’ve averaged $1,000 each year for the past four years. This education fund can help Lilly pay for any type of higher education and any additional costs with it.
“I’m hoping that if we do this 18 years, then maybe $18,000 will pay for one year of college,” Barb Spaulding said. “I just don’t want her to start out in debt.”
The event will also have a silent auction, including items from The People’s Winery, The Bob and Tom Show, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, All-Phase Electric Supply and Loretta’s Therapeutic.