Spring Fling nets $19,000 for River Center

The Dungeness River Audubon Center director can breathe a little easier. He topped his River Center co-worker by a hair and, in the process, kept his own.

Bob Boekelheide won the center's Spring Fling Battle of the Beards, edging Powell Jones by just $26 in their race to fundraise the most for the center.

The first of what organizers say is sure to be an annual event, the river center's 2009 Spring Fling saw Boekel-heide, Jones and dozens of others pedal, run, swim, paddle and play pinochle (no, that's not a misprint) for sponsorships to raise funds for the center.

The goal was $20,000, and event organizer Julie Jackson said the community's efforts nearly met the goal. On Saturday afternoon, Jackson said the center has a little more than $19,000 pledged and already has collected $15,000 of that.

The River Center traditionally hosts an annual one-day walk-a-thon to help pay for educational programs and maintenance at the center and Railroad Bridge Park.

This year, volunteers looked for a bigger, better fundraiser and went with the Spring Fling, asking River Center advocates to pick an activity or activities and get sponsors for each event or mile.

Some ran miles while others hiked. Some counted birds while others paddled kayaks. The Freedom Farm Team rode horseback for more than 400 miles.

"It wasn't hard at all," team member Mary Mira said.

The Swift Swallows bird-watching group counted 295 different species of birds in several different states. Individually, Dave Jackson recorded 204 species of birds.

Team PTC, the Peninsula Trails Coalition group, logged more than 2,200 miles.

Annette Nesse rode her bike and helped raise $1,825.

Hansi Hals swam nine miles and added 200 running miles.

The highlight of June 20's end-of-Spring-Fling festivities was the announcement that Boekelheide had raised $2,790 to Jones' $2,764, meaning the River Center director could keep the beard he's not shaved for three decades.

"I was worried, of course; we had been virtually tied for much of the past couple of weeks," Boekelheide said.

"From my perspective, it was a little offsetting (because) it put us in competition with each other. Powell's such a good sport."

Jones, who said earlier he wasn't too worried, win or lose, took defeat graciously and shaved most of his thick, red beard on the spot.

"By the time we have camps he'll have most of (the beard) back," Boekelheide joked.

"I don't know," Jones replied. "I might just keep it shaved."

See team and individual fundraising totals at www.

Reach Michael Dashiell at

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