In Western Nebraska the term, “Big Mac,” often refers to something much bigger than a hamburger. Lake McConaughy, or Big Mac, is the aquatic pride and joy of the Panhandle, and, yes, it is much bigger than a hamburger.

I recently attended a fundraiser at Lake McConaughy that was sponsored by the Ogallala Rotary Club. In fact, this year marked the fourth time I attended the Kayak Big Mac. Kayak Big Mac is the Rotary Club’s annual fundraiser for water projects.

This year the Ogallala Rotary Club set out to raise money to pay for swimming lessons for needy children. Water safety is essential in watery places like Big Mac, so it is important that all kids know how to swim.

Kayak Big Mac brings in people from out of town and gets them outdoors to enjoy the lake during the offseason. Participants prepare ahead of time by getting people to sponsor them. Then, when the big day arrives they start the day off with a pancake breakfast, then they paddle their kayaks three miles across the lake. Once they reach their final destination, they get to warm up with a hot bowl of chili.

The event was a big success and no one fell out of their kayak. This year the Kayak Big Mac had 46 participants, approximately 80 spectators and brought in $1,800. Not bad for a day of kayaking on a cold and blustery day!

Next spring the Ogallala Rotary Club will be partnering up with the Goodall Recreation Center to talk to school children about water safety. They plan to give kindergarteners a copy of the book, Josh the Otter, and talk to parents about how to sign up for free swimming lessons.

Finally, I would like to remind everyone to continue to remember our veterans beyond Veterans Day. If you think about it, every day should really be Veterans Day. Is there ever a day when we should not be thankful for their service to our country?

Veterans Day is a day we set aside to intentionally honor our veterans. But, just as it means more to a parent when their child expresses thanksgiving for a gift without being coaxed to do so, so also it means more to a veteran to hear those words of gratitude for their service and sacrifice from American citizens on days other than Veterans Day. So, let’s be intentional this year about thanking veterans throughout the year and not just on those days when we are supposed to.

May we never forget that all gave some, but some gave all. Thank you veterans.

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