Rowing to raise money for breast cancer research

Karmanos’ Life Preservers Dragon Boat Team

By Lynne Moseley, D.D.S., director of the Oral Oncology Department at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute

Dragon boat racing has been around for centuries and is a popular early summer activity in the Orient. A worldwide revival began about 25 years ago and boating fever has caught on at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute with the Life Preservers Dragon Boat Team!

Nothing surpasses the fun and excitement Karmanos rowers feel when they are racing against other hospital teams on Lake St. Clair, knowing that every paddle stroke translates into breast cancer research dollars at Karmanos and other hospitals in Canada.

The Life Preservers will once again take to the waters in the International Dragon Boat Festival this month from July 8-10, 2011, at Waterfront Park in Tecumseh, Ontario, just a short jaunt from Windsor. There are approximately 115 teams that come out for the event, and the race attracts rowers from all over North America and the world.

The Karmanos team, since it was formed about six years ago, has raised approximately $50,000. Each member is committed to raising at least $250 for the event. Monies raised are placed in a fund administered by the International Dragon Boat Festival for the Cure, established by French Dressing Jeans Co. of Quebec. The festival, over the last seven years, has raised more than $1.3 million for hospitals that treat and research breast cancer.

Fund recipients include Karmanos as the only U.S. hospital; Windsor Regional Breast Health Centre; Windsor & Essex County Cancer Centre Foundation; Windsor Regional Cancer Centre; Leamington District Memorial Hospital; Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital Foundation; and the  Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Some of the 22 team members with Karmanos have been racing for five years in the 40-foot-long boats embellished with dragon heads at the bow and stern. These boats are paddled much like a canoe. One person sits in back and steers and another person sits in front, beating a drum to provide synchronization for rowers.

Dragon Boats

In my opinion, the great thing about dragon boat racing is that anyone can participate — whether you are a gym rat or someone just trying the sport for the first time. Our team members also come from diverse backgrounds and are of all ages.

Plus, and perhaps most interestingly, some of our rowers are breast cancer survivors who started dragon boat racing to ward off the effects of lymphedema. Lymphedema is a swelling in the arms caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the soft tissue following radiation or surgery.

The exercise and camaraderie have improved the quality of life of our rowers and those who benefit from funds generated for breast cancer research in this region. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the event adds a real splash of fun to the summertime!

If you would like to contribute to Karmanos’ Life Preservers Dragon Boat team, please contact Team Captain Laura Mantha at (313) 576-8401 or Karry Samulski at (313) 576-8121.

Paddles up, everyone!

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