Rock River kayakers welcomed by their school

Garrett Feik paddles a stretch of the Rock River Thursday, May 15. (Photo provided)

Rock River Journey: Day 4

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

Maranatha Baptist University students and faculty, along with the Watertown, Wis., community, welcomed Jake Boucher, Garrett Feik and Jon Gress as they paddled through the city Friday, May, 16.

“We decided to go all the way to Watertown last night,” Boucher said.

A plan to set up camp in Ixonia, Wis., was scrapped Thursday night so the trio could use Gress’ apartment in Watertown to come in out of temperatures that dipped in the 30s overnight. Thursday’s arrival was also just in time for them to paddle to Riverside Park, where they were welcomed by members of the Maranatha student body and faculty for lunch and fellowship.

“This means a lot to our students and the university,” Maranatha Director of Student Activities Peter Huber said. “It is great to see something like this because these guys are doing this because of how much they love their school. And, it will be good for them to get some real food. So far, I think they’ve only had bread, raisins and oatmeal.”

Boucher, a native of Aledo, Ill., is a sophomore studying business management at Maranatha, while Gress, of Pekin, Ill., is a biblical studies senior. Feik, also of Aledo, is enrolled at Western Illinois University. The students organized the 320-mile trip in hopes of raising $10,000 to help Maranatha buy new uniforms for its athletic teams and paint its gymnasium. Formerly Maranatha Baptist Bible College, the school recently attained university status that came a major re-branding campaign. The sports teams are now known as the Sabercats, after years as the Maranatha Crusaders.

After arriving in Watertown Thursday, the paddlers were assisted by Steve Kibler, Boucher’s work-study supervisor on the Maranatha grounds keeping crew. Kibler transported the men and their gear to Gress’ apartment.

“It was nice to have a hot shower,” Boucher joked.

As of this report, the trip has spanned 64 miles. It started Tuesday, May 13, where the Rock River rises in Dodge County, Wis.

Feik, Boucher and Gress spent the bulk of the first day paddling the length of Lake Sinissippi, arriving at Harnischfeger Park, in Lebanon, Wis., by nightfall. While light rain caused a slight delay Thursday morning, the men are on schedule to arrive in the Quad Cities by Thursday, May 29.

“It’s been great so far,” Boucher added. “The water has been perfect–perfect speed and levels. If I was to do this again, I’d want these conditions. God has been gracious to us.”

Follow the journey down the Rock River Trail at,rockrivertimes.comand

Send donations to:

Maranatha Baptist University Sabercats
745 West Main St.
Watertown, WI 53094

Online donations can be made at

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