LAKE WYLIE--Including campers, counselors and leaders, more than 100 people poured out of two buses Thursday for the second annual Dakota's Spectacular Day on the Lake held at the home of Ted and Lannette Conder.
The event began last summer, following the death of the Conders' son Dakota Gay in January 2007 after a battle with brain cancer. Campers and staff with Courageous Kidz, a group offering special experiences and networking opportunities for children with cancer and their families, included Gay during his three-year fight and the Conders wanted to honor their son and the group with a day of fun on the water.
"Last year's event was beyond all we could have hoped for," said Lannette Conder. "All the kids had such a grand time. There truly is nothing more rewarding to my heart than to see these children smile and, for just one moment, to be the "normal" kids they were meant to be."
Anita Elam, friend of the Conders and volunteer with the group who lives in Union County, said something as simple as towing children behind a boat can make a huge difference for children and families seldom able to enjoy life. Elam's son Brandon attended the event last year and rode on a pulled float, one of the memories he and his mother most cherished prior to his death at age 16.
"He was so sick last year and he knew it would probably make him sick to ride, but he just wanted to ride on that float so much," Elam said. "You just never know how much it means to some of these kids to be able to have fun like this and enjoy things that kids should enjoy."
Neighbors and friends assisted the Conders, from filling water balloons and purchasing silly string to offering boats for children to ride. Two officers with the York County Sheriff's Office even gave children rides on jet skis.
"So much of this event is made possible through dear friends and the help of our wonderful Lake Wylie community," Lannette Conder said.