Faulkner County service members raised $500 for the Children's Protection Center during a Friday cookout and hopes to collect more donations in the days leading up to the sixth annual River Cities Dragon Boat Festival.

Boats and Rows is a local team composed of area judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and investigators, prosecutors and defense attorneys, former and current military service members, teachers and also brags having two Razorback football players on its side. The team will compete in the annual River Cities Dragon Boat Festival on June 16 at Lake Willastein in Maumelle.

Money raised during Friday's luncheon along with pledges collected by each of Boats and Rows' 23 members will help support CPC, which serves children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Charles Finkenbinder, who is Conway's chief deputy prosecuting attorney, said he was glad to support the local team's mission Friday.

"It's a fantastic idea," he said of the group and its mission to help raise funds for CPC. "What they're raising money for, these children, is extremely important."

CPC Executive Director Jennifer Long said she was thankful for the efforts of the Boats and Rows team members as well as for the Conway community in coming out Friday to support the group in its mission to raise funds for abused children.

"We are so thankful to the community for supporting team Boats and Rows as they raise money and awareness about child abuse," she said. "Child abuse really is a community issue and it takes a community to keep children safe and help them heal from abuse."

Donations for the team can be sent to www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/boats-and-rows-2018 in the days leading up to the River Cities Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Willastein.

The annual River Cities Dragon Boat Festival is a family-friendly event that takes place June 15 and 16 at Lake Willastein in Maumelle.

“For us, this event is the largest fundraiser for our center,” Long said. “To do this [service] work, it takes a lot of money. Through this event, we want to not only raise money, but also raise awareness and the Dragon Boat festival focuses on the fact that it takes a team to do the work we do daily.”

Participating teams will set up and decorate their tents June 15 and there will be live music featured from 7-9 p.m. Food trucks will also be onsite and attendees are encouraged to take the time to get to know one another as they set up for the big event scheduled for the next day, Long said, also noting there will be a fireworks show that night.

The big event kicks off at 8 a.m. June 16, with each team dressed in wildly-festive costumes and preparing to embark on a race for a good cause across the waters.

“This is when corporate and community teams race for glory and prizes,” according to the event’s website, which also states that “there will be a number of things for folks to enjoy onshore, including [live music], food trucks, and a children’s activity area” that features arts and crafts and more.

Prizes will be awarded throughout the day “for things such s best dressed drummer, best decorated tent and more,” the event’s website states.

While the event itself is filled with a weekend of family fun, its main purpose is to raise funds to help support abused children and raise community awareness, Long said.