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Living Strong On the Llano, Chemo Sabe!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009 • Posted June 17, 2009

June 6th, 2009, at the Great Castell Kayak Race, 151 kayakers officially took a number and hit the water—all to race for LiveStrong and Chemo Sabe.’ As a Mason County event, this race has it all: athletics, a great cause, happy campers, music and one of the most beautiful rivers in the USA.

The excited racers left the Llano River RV Park right outside Mason at 9:10 a.m., and headed downstream to the finish line at RiverSounds, where volunteers were at the banks to help the tired but exultant “survivors” thru the goal posts. There were people from all walks of life and from all over Texas enjoying the cool waters of the Llano, good hospitality and local charm. The race was the best ever and organizers felt the extra attention from local and statewide media as well as sponsors helped propel the numbers ever upward. They had a 30% increase over last year in attendance and donations.

The event grossed $14,000 this year, the first without an auction, which usually is the bulk of the funds raised. That is music to the ears of Jerialice Arsenault, founder and director for the last 7 years. Speaking of music, Arsenault wishes to acknowledge the hard work of Scott Haupert and Manny Silerio of Sandstone Cellars Winery of Mason, who sponsored the stage. They were in attendance during the illness of Judith Curtis, Arsenault’s sister who died from cancer in 2007, and were instrumental in the success of the music concert this year starring the Dust Devils. Haupert is a noted musical talent on his own and has much to add to any musical venture.

Arsenault also “praises the wonderful people of Mason who showed up, volunteered, gave financial support and have been there backing the event for the entire time. All the banks in Mason are to be commended for their generous support of so many local needs.” According to the organizers, Mason has a unique community spirit that has made this event so successful. Attendees also enjoyed the music of Hill House, a Mason duet consisting of Daryl and Petra Watson.

The river was “about an hour faster” compared to last year and first place was captured by John Bartzell, elapsed time 1 hour and 50 minutes. Second place was won by Mike Drost, who is the director of the “Colorado 100,” a 100-mile race down the Colorado River from Bastrop. Coming in third for his second year in a row was Grady Reed. This year was the record for the youngest child across the finish line, Kaden Cate at three years old. For more stats and info on race results, the web site, castelltexas.com, has much more and pictures too.

Chemo Sabe’ has a new vision that has been launched to help people and families in the throes of chemotherapy. As a local/regional group their goal is to help “friends” navigate the maze of doctors, social programs and treatment options. They also lend a hand if someone needs rides, food or other small gestures of kindness during the stress of catastrophic upheaval that is part and parcel of the trauma that living with cancer brings. LiveStrong is the outreach program of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Arsenault feels LAF handles the research and lobbying for health care changes, while CS handles people on a local level. Both groups focus on survival, strength and a passion for support networks.

The Race wants to thank Mason County News; KXAN 36 of Austin, Tx; 1300 The Zone of Austin, Tx; Scott and White; Llano Memorial Health Care; Frontera @ The Mason Clinic; Jesse James Realty and KFAN 107.9 FM. These sponsors became underwriters this year and have made a difference. For any more information or to apply for Chemo Sabe’ call 512-217-4596.

The race goes on: time is of the essence to those fighting for their lives! GCKR will ride again next year 2010—First Saturday in June.

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