Penguin Bloom – Paracanoe Program Fundraiser SUCCESS!

Paddle WA’s exclusive screening to Penguin Bloom was a fantastic night out last Saturday, and all for a great cause too!

WAIS Paracanoe on display. Photo: Sue McDougall

A total of 153 people from within and around our paddling community came to support the newly-established Paracanoe Program at Ascot Kayak Club, which is the first club-based program in Australia that introduces para-athletes to the world of paddling. As shown in this incredible Australian film, our sport can completely transform the lives of people with significant impairments for the better. Before the screening, our current WAIS Paracanoeists gave an insightful presentation to the crowd about their disabilities; how they got them, how they learned to cope, and how exactly how paracanoeing has changed their lives. A big thank you goes to Kathleen O’Kelly-Kennedy, Mark Daniels and Ben Sainsbury for speaking to the crowd, and their ongoing support for the AKC Paracanoe Program.

Ben Sainsbury directly quoted the movie before even watching it when he said ‘when I’m in a kayak, I look like everyone else‘.

Mark Daniels coaching the paracanoe program (left), Ben, Mark & Kathleen at the movie (centre), para-athlete giving slalom a try! (right). Photos: Ascot Kayak Club

We are excited to announce that we raised over $1500 for the AKC Paracanoe Program!

These funds will go towards the purchase of specialised wheelchair matting that will give riverbank access to paddling areas that para-athletes could not otherwise enter their kayaks from.

For those that could not attend our screening of Penguin Bloom last weekend, we cannot recommend this movie enough! It gives a powerful look into the everyday lives of people with paraplegia, and also shows some of the techniques used to teach canoeing to para-athletes. We have created a donation portal for anybody else who watches Penguin Bloom and would still like to support the program, or for anyone who just wants to give a donation!

Thank you to Event Cinemas Innaloo for giving us this incredible fundraising opportunity. Also a big thanks goes to Sue McDougall (AKC), Ramon Andersson (WAIS) and Chrissie Banwell (Paralympics Australia) for organising the Paracanoe display in the foyer and for spreading the fundraiser far and wide!

About Sam Bloom

After finding an unlikely friend in the magpie, Sam found a renewed sense of purpose and turned to sports, including paracanoeing.

In 2015, Sam was selected to the Australian Paracanoe Team to compete in Milan, Italy at the 2015 ICF Paracanoe World Championships in the KL1 Women 200m event.

Today, Sam has reconnected with her love for the ocean and made a return to surfing. In August 2018, Sam was selected to the Australian Adaptive Surf Team and has since won Gold for Australia at both the 2019 and 2020 World Para Surfing Championships.