Two dozen boat-owners came together to give local foster families a day full of water sports and play at Hagg Lake.

Dozens of families and wake boats made their way out to Henry Hagg Lake Monday morning, June 25, to take part in western Washington County's fifth annual "Wake the World" event.

With 24 boats and around 70 kids, the event provides foster children and their families a day of fun in the sunshine.

The families came from Washington County, Yamhill County and Columbia County — mostly through the Department of Human Services, plus some from the Big Brother/Big Sister program. They were taken out on the water by local boat-owners who volunteered to provide their entertainment for the day.

Kids went wakeboarding, wake-surfing, inner tubing and swimming and played in the lake, also enjoying a catered lunch from Audaddy's, a food cart based in Forest Grove.

Each kid, foster and otherwise, went home with a backpack filled with toys, school supplies and some great memories.

The nonprofit organization Wake the World started in 2008 in North Carolina and has spread across the country over the last decade, with 50 organized events this year — including one at Foster Lake near Sweet Home, Detroit Lake, Fern Ridge Lake in Lane County, Devil's Lake near the Oregon Coast, and Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon.

"It just keeps growing every year," said Mark Crowell, who started the Hagg Lake event. "I just wanted to branch out and help as many kids and different organizations that they'd be in."

Foster mom Candace Hjort from St. Helens brought both her foster son and biological son out to the Forest Grove event for the first time on Monday.

"I think it's great," she said. "The kids love it. ... It's just something that they wouldn't normally do, because the resources. For my kids to do it, it's wonderful."

The event is free to families and completely volunteer-run, said Crowell, who also works as the public works director for the City of Cornelius. Organizers put on a fundraiser each year to be able to make the event possible, and it's a tradition he hopes to continue for many years.

"(It's about) sharing our passion for water sports," Crowell said. "They love it. That's what it's all about, sharing what we kind of take for granted with people that maybe don't ever get the chance to do that."

By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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