Paddling Against Human Trafficking


Started in late June 2010 with the hopes of sharing North Dakota’s beautiful river valley sites and gorgeous lake views with many others across the state as well as visitors, Sandy McKay created Missouri River Kayak Rentals. Initially asking her sister-in-law to join the venture, they were able to share their love for sun, family fun, and kayaking in North Dakota with others. They invested their own out-of-pocket cash to acquire 20 Wilderness Pungo kayaks and a trailer enabling them a way for the public to get out and enjoy the long awaited summer months in the North Dakota outdoors.

Now, as a one-woman operation, McKay has over 60 kayaks, including singles and tandems, available to rent or purchase. “I’ve been to Lake Metigoshe over to Medora for everything from company picnics to bachelor and bachelorette parties, family reunions, and more,” says McKay.

Since their inception in 2010, McKay has become more and more involved in giving back to her local community. McKay mentions, “I happened to be at church and they had two speakers that day talking about human trafficking and how real it is becoming in North Dakota.” She remembers talking with them after church that day noting that she would like to be involved with the cause somehow and pitched the idea of a kayaking fundraiser. From there, a partnership was sparked with the 31:8 Project and Free International North Dakota (FIND) with all proceeds going to educational awareness on human trafficking across North Dakota.

Missouri River Kayak Rentals FIND and 31:8 Project

Though a windy day, the first year was considered a success with 75 kayakers who showed up in support. In the second year, McKay mentioned there were a few less kayakers but it was still an awesome day with beautiful weather to support a great cause. The second year also grew in interest with the addition of donations and sponsored gift baskets. “Dakota Community Bank & Trust donated an amazing basket with all kinds of goodies in it from cookware to utensils. It was huge for the event,” says McKay.

She notes that while this one event might be a ‘drop in the overall bucket’, every little bit helps; and that, some of that help comes in the form of those important community sponsorships such as Dakota Community Bank & Trust (DCB&T). In just two years’ time, this event has helped to raise over $4,000 for FIND and 31:8.

This upcoming summer will be the third annual Paddling Against Human Trafficking Fundraiser. With high hopes of growing this event year after year, McKay knows that all community support from both businesses and individuals is instrumental in raising awareness for human trafficking. “Where the money goes and what they do with it – along with the education surrounding human trafficking, they go out to help. They help people get back on their feet and back to where they belong.”

Missouri River Kayak Rentals Sponsor Sign

If you are wanting to enjoy an hour paddling on Lake Sakakawea or a day trip floating along the Missouri River bottom, Missouri River Kayak Rentals can provide you with the transportation and equipment you need to make your outdoor experience worthwhile. For specific information regarding upcoming events such as the kayaking fundraiser, visit their Facebook page.

Written by Lindsey Hefta, Marketing Director