Conscious party: Stand Up for Autism

FLOAT ON: Autism Society of North Carolina is hinging its next fundraiser around competitive paddleboarding. But, "If you don't want to race, you can definitely enjoy Paddlefest," says organizer Mary Catherine Ward. That area of the event involves leisurely demo rides on multiple watercraft. Photo courtesy of ASNC

WHAT: Autism Society of North Carolina’s stand-up paddleboard race and pre-party

WHERE: Lake Julian and Wild Wing Café (Long Shoals Road)

WHEN: Friday-Saturday, July 22-23

WHY: A buoyant benefit at Lake Julian will raise awareness and funds for the local branch of Autism Society of North Carolina, which supports autistic individuals as well as their families and professionals. And the two-day, sports-themed event aims to draw equal attention to the lake’s appeal as a destination for scenic adventures.

“Friday night, [from 5-9 p.m.,] we’ve got Barbecue and Brews, which is kind of a precursor to the event,” says organizer Mary Catherine Ward. Food from host venue Wild Wing Café is included in admission, as is donated beer from Wicked Weed Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues Brewery. Guests can also bet one free raffle ticket on outdoorsy loot like a bike from New Belgium, paddleboard from Diamond Brand and excursions led by WASUP Asheville — all to the tune of live music.

On Saturday, participants will stretch into action with al fresco yoga at 10 a.m. Concurrent sessions take place on Wild Wing’s lakeside deck and, for those who want to further flex their balance muscles, atop paddleboards on the lake itself. Registration is free and required.

At 11:30 a.m., it’s time for the main attraction: a 3-mile race around Lake Julian. The waters, Ward says, are “really calm, so you’re not fighting waves, rocks or any of those things that sometimes you would find in the French Broad [River]. For the beginning paddler, it’s the perfect venue.”

Not competitive, even on flat waters? Try Paddlefest instead. Diamond Brand is bringing all sorts of floating vehicles for folks to test-ride on the lake that same morning. “You can spend 15 minutes or three hours trying different watercrafts.” And regardless of pace, Saturday’s crowd will get a
T-shirt, raffle ticket and giveaways from Prestige Subaru.

Tickets to Barbecue and Brews are $30/$35 for adults, $10 for youths under 10 and $15 for ages 11-20. Tickets to participate in either the Stand Up for Autism race or Paddlefest are $25/30. Visit for more information.

About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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