Floating on the river

Floating down the Susquehanna River or riding a motorcycle on a lazy Saturday morning, even in a light, constant drizzle, is an easy way to kick back and relax, especially while donating to a good cause.

Over the last two years, the Susquehanna River Fanny Float and DuBoistown Dice Run motorcycle rfundraiser have collected $101,000 for Andrew’s Special Kids Foundation, said founder Dean Kriebel, 45, of South Williamsport.

All proceeds provide children with special needs with adaptive equipment, special education opportunities, safety equipment, therapies and financial assistance for out-of-state travel.

Dean and Amy Kriebel’s 12-year-old son, Andrew, has Angelman Syndrome, which includes severe seizures, developmental delay, an excessive mouthing disorder.

Kriebel started the dice run nine years ago and the float three years ago to help fund the foundation.

“You can consider it a negative, but we turned it around to a positive,” he said of his son’s disability.

Due to Saturday morning’s wet weather, he was disappointed in the lower turn-out, and said he hopes the corporate sponsors will step in and help fill in the gaps for the kids.

Volunteers were still out in full force, many personally touched by the Kriebels’ story. When Jim O’Brien heard Kriebel speak at a United Way event, his story hit home, and they’ve been friends since.

He and his wife, Cathy of Montoursville, have a 15-year-old daughter, Kate, who has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS), a severe seizure disorder. When Kate turned four, the seizures began. At first, he asked the gut-wrenching questions, “Why us?”

“You go through denial, but then you face facts and take a lot of good from it. … More and more, it became a blessing,” he said, explaining they never would have experienced the amount of compassion from people otherwise.?For Father’s Day, Kate excitedly gave him huge, plastic yellow sunglasses. “I’m luckier than most,” Mr. O’Brien said. “If I could take all the disabilities away, we’d all want that. But it’s the little things…she’s Daddy’s girl,” he said, noting she is at a 5-year-old’s level mentally.

Volunteer and friend Sue Hawkins, 40, of South Williamsport, said it’s a great organization and cause. “There are so many kids that need help. I hope someday, when we need it, someone will help us,” she said.

At a young age, Cortney Steinbacher, 17, of Nippenose Valley, also saw how difficult it can be to live with a disability. Her cousin Justin, 18, has cystic fibrosis and she’s seen him go in and out of the hospital. At a CF walk with Justin, she heard the story of a young boy who thought his cystic fibrosis was “65 roses.” That story stayed with Steinbacher, and when she saw red rose fabric at a store, she decided to make a quilt in her 4-H class called “65 Roses.” She made it when she was 14 and decided the float was the perfect venue for it. It was auctioned off at the float, with half of its proceeds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the other half to Andrew’s Special Kids Foundation.

Motorcycle club Penitent Souls showed up in full force. The club raises money for children in need, and Aug. 10 is their next ride. Last year, they raised enough money to help 29 children.?Despite the drizzly weather, participants were determined to have a good time, many saying with a shrug, “We’re going to get wet, anyway.”

Pat Cummings, 55, of Mansfield, came with her daughter, Kassidy, 15. “Rain or shine, either way, we were on our way. It’s such a good cause,” Cummings said.

Cameron Hall, 8, of Williamsport came with a group of family and friends – and with a set of unique oars. He duct-taped two dog food scoops to wooden sticks. He explained with a grin he wanted to beat his mom, Brandy, to the end of the mile-long float. Friends Jaxson Peterson, 8, Tristan Hill, 8 and parents Jason and Shelley Hill of South Williamsport brought a family-sized raft. Friends Kira Kaczkurkin, 31, and daughter Saige Watkins, 7, also came along for a fun ride.?Judy Andrews, 46, and son Charlie, 15, of Covington, were prepared for a wet ride with towels sealed in plastic bags and a waterproof phone case.

Stephanie Chrisenberry, 42, Jessica Bower, 20, Terri Bickel, 46, all of Jersey Shore and Moranda Schon, 22, of Williamsport, said the float is a great way to relax, get a tan and benefit a good cause, too. They had a luxury eight-person raft. They insisted their fannies would still be in the water in the raft’s mesh bottom.

Danelle Saxe, 33, of Williamsport, said this is her first year at the float, and was well armed with “floating essentials” of pool floats and a cooler full of drinks.

Chrissie VanPelt, 49, of Muncy, floated with her co-worker Ashley Gerber, 18, of South Williamsport. “It’s a good reason and a good time,” VanPelt said.