Ready to "Rock the Boat"? Whirlpool cardboard boats set to race July 19






Contact: Ryan Cheevers / 269.932.3546


Ready to "Rock the Boat"? Whirlpool cardboard boats set to race July 19

United Way of Southwest Michigan benefits from the annual event at The Inn at Harbor Shores

Look out pleasure craft and cargo ships. Move over kayaks and paddle boards. Cardboard boats are coming to the St. Joseph River!

The third annual “Rock the Boat” cardboard boat races, sponsored by Whirlpool Corporation, take off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 19 at The Inn at Harbor Shores, 800 Whitwam Dr., St Joseph, Michigan.

For boaters, the registration fee is $250. The deadline to register a boat is Monday, July 9. Check in on the day of the event is from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The safety briefing is at 5:45 p.m. 

“This event has really taken off. We started with five boats in 2016, jumping to 30 boats last year. We’d love to see 60 boats in the marina this summer. The more boats we can get signed up, the more money goes back into the community,” said Whirlpool Corporation’s Matt Meier, United Way of Southwest Michigan campaign co-chair.  

Proceeds from the event will stay local, benefiting United Way of Southwest Michigan. The life-size boats are made of cardboard, duct tape, and polyurethane, and powered entirely by human paddling. The event is open to the public, and there will be food and t-shirts available for sale.

United Way’s boat hasn’t been known for its speed, but it’s the one to beat in terms of originality. Prizes are given for “Most Creative” and “Best Theme.” United Way took the latter prize the last two years in a row with its “R.M.S. Titanic” and “Wrigley Field.” United Way’s theme for this year’s boat is a closely guarded and much-awaited secret.

According to United Way, the first sign-up from 2017 didn’t happen until June 5.  Already, 10 boats have signed up for the July 19th race.  Newcomers include: Hospice at Home (Caring Circle), Haymarket Brewing, Silver Harbor Brewing Company and The YMCA of Southwest Michigan.  

To register a boat, sponsor a boat, or volunteer, visit


United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the Health, Education, and Financial Stability of every person in every community. We have the influence and relationships to make sustainable change a reality. By harnessing resources from corporate, nonprofit, and public partners, we provide immediate assistance to our most vulnerable populations while addressing the root causes of our community's longstanding challenges and changing lives for the better. To join the fight—through giving, advocacy, and volunteering—visit


Ryan CheeversComment