By: Deanna Rebro | Category: Special Interest | Issue: August 2011
Regatta Chairman Mark Lobo, Development Coordinator Rachel Klenda and Charter Sponsor Mike Love invite people to sail a boat, sponsor a boat or just watch a boat while searching for a cure for multiple sclerosis.
The search for a cure for multiple sclerosis promises to be fun – so much fun that it will cover two days with two separate events, the Close/MS Regatta Launch Party on August 18 and the 32nd annual Close/MS Regatta on September 10.
Since 1980, the Windycrest Sailing Club on Lake Keystone has presented the regatta for the benefit of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oklahoma. The club that was built upon sailing and volunteerism will welcome nearly 50 boats ranging from 8 feet to 27 feet.
Three charter sponsors – Love Envelopes, Anchor Paint and Kiwanis Club of East Tulsa County, formerly known as Kiwanis Club of Tulsa S.E. – have participated in every race. Love Envelopes owner Mike Love marvels at how the effort has grown. He recalls the thrill their first year when a handful of supporters and sponsors raised $10,000. To date, more than $1.1 million has been raised to support local programs, services and research.
“I have been around a lot of organizations where only 20 to 30 percent of the money gets put to use toward the cause,” says Mike. “All of this money is going to the people who need it.”
The regatta is one race where order of finish is secondary to just having fun and feeling progress through the smiles and gratefulness of those affected by multiple sclerosis. Even people who don’t know anything about sailing have a great time. A large party boat will take spectators up close to the activity while someone explains what is happening. A dinner at the Windycrest Pavilion follows the race.
The Close/MS Regatta is named in honor and in memory of Jim and Rosemary Close, longtime chapter supporters. This year’s theme, “Power Up for MS Cure,” got its name from someone noticing that two to the fifth power is 32, the number of years for the annual event. Chairman Mark Lobo leads a 20-member committee.
The regatta begins with a separate event to build enthusiasm for the big day. The Close/MS Regatta Launch Party will be held August 18 at 6p.m. at the Home Builders Association of Tulsa, 11545 E. 43rd St. QuikTrip Kitchens is once again the food sponsor for the party, which features refreshments and 145 items to be presented in a silent auction and a live auction hosted by Jay Litchfield. Bluegrass, rock and country music will be provided by the ZooGrass Boys.
The launch party is open to anyone and everyone who has an interest in MS. It’s an opportunity to talk with people who share the same challenges. It’s also a time to welcome new sponsors and for club members to reminisce about past regattas during calm days, windy days, thunder, lightning and rain. Tickets for the launch party are $10 per person reserved or $15 at the door.
Many corporations participate in the regatta with a tax-deductible sponsorship ranging from $300 to $5,000. Some have employees who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and are among the 24,000 Oklahomans affected by this mysterious disease that has no known cause and no cure.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic and often disabling neurological disease that typically strikes adults in the prime of their lives, between the ages of 20 and 50. They can be fine one day and then suddenly find themselves forever immobile the following day.
Mike Love believes that with everyone working together, a cure is within reach. “In the 1970s, an MS diagnosis was like a death sentence,” he says. “Today, people can live fulfilled lives.”
The local office helps to maximize productivity and independence by offering individuals and their families everything from a lending library of informational resources to financial aid, wheelchairs, canes, voice boxes and other assistance. Money raised from last year’s regatta provided a motorized scooter for a gentleman who is homebound and unable to get around his home to attend the simplest of daily chores.
For more information on the Launch Party on August 18 or the Close/Regatta on September 10, contact Mark Lobo at (918) 645-7170.
Deanna Rebro has worked in the publishing industry 30+ years, including eight years writing for Value News. She has also worked in real estate for the past six years. Deanna graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio with a B.A. in Journalism. Outside of work, she serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors for Pet Adoption League. “Every story I write is a learning experience,” she said.