Waco, TEXAS (FOX 44) – Well known athletes and companies are putting their hands on Waco to kick off its first regatta this Sunday.

It’s a rowing competition, and Sparkling Ice’s “Cheers To You” program is dedicating a new boat to the Waco Youth Rowing Center Team.

17 miles on the Brazos River holds a perfect spot for rowers to show their skill.

Waco Rowing Center staff say a year of planning went into this event to provide our community with a new avenue to explore.

“It’s a good thing. People like the sport, people like seeing kids who don’t usually have the chance to do this sport, have this sport, and we’re excited for them to be able to see it on the bigger scale,” said Waco Rowing Center Executive Director, Matt Schueritzel.

Schueritzel says Arshay Cooper, captain of the first all-black rowing team in America, and Sparkling Ice helped make this event possible.

Nearly 25 clubs will be represented from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and New Jersey with 1000 athletes participating Sunday.

Sparkling Ice senior vice president of community experience Nina Morrison says the partnership will serve as a positive outlet for years to come.

“It’s going to be a wonderful way for the team to get together, the entire town to celebrate, and bring cheer and opportunity to East Waco and the rowing team,” said Morrison.

La Vega ISD got Cooper involved in the project this spring so he can provide minority and economically disadvantaged students new opportunities in undeserved areas.

12 rowing machines have been donated to spark student interest, and today two boats.

Since the summer, professional and Olympic athletes have supported 14 La Vega ISD students to now be on the rowing team

“This is way beyond La Vega High School. This is a huge deal for Waco itself,” said La Vega High School Principal, James Villa.

Schuertizel says the benefits are twofold.

From basic life skills like swimming to social, emotional learning discipline. It’s also a sport that’s tied directly to travel, international travel, college scholarships,” said Schuertizel.

The boat dedication ceremony will be held Sunday morning at East Brazos Park with the regatta following after at 8.