A Sea of Pink with a Dragon In It

If you live in Sarasota, Florida or are planning a vacation to Sarasota the weekend of October 24- 26, you won't want to miss the sea of pink washing up on the shores at Nathan Benderson Park. For the first time, the US is hosting the International Dragon Boat Festival, an event organized by The International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission (IBCPC). The IBCPC’s objective is to send message that a full and active life after breast cancer is possible.
     Come witness a sea of pink with over 100 breast cancer survivor teams from around the world converging at the shores of Nathan Benderson Park. Breast cancer survivors will have an opportunity to network with international teams from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, Singapore, and the United States, joining together with one common goal, to paddle our way back to full and active lives.
     The event begins with an opening ceremony will be held at 5PM on Friday, October 24th. The sea of pink will then wash over our city and enjoy everything it has to offer after. Races begin Saturday, October 25th at 8AM and go until 3:30PM. An international grand parade will then be held on Lakewood Ranch Main Street at 6PM. Each team will wear a costume representing their country or state and their international pride. Sunday will complete the semi-final races beginning at 8AM, and the day ends with a true Celebration of Survivorship and Sisterhood, with paddlers from all countries racing in a dragonboat together. Closing will be a grand flower ceremony and the making of memories until we meet again in 2018.  Will it be in Italy, UK, France?

     We who make up Survivors In Sync (SIS) are the new kids on the dock, Sarasota’s first dragon boat team.  We have been practicing 3 times per week to prepare for this event. We had our first scrimmage in August and will compete in Jacksonville in September. Who ever thought we’d be familiar with paddleboat positions like “strokes,” the two people at the front of the boat keep our team in sync. Those in “the engine room” bring the strength of the team together, while the rear handles the rushing waters that 20 paddlers create. Coaches Bob Whitford, the manager of Nathan Benderson Park, and Kathy Levy, our snowbird coach from Canada, guide us through endurance practices and tug of war competitions to create strength and unity. "Heads in the boat" and “hips to the gunnel" are common phrases we hear while practicing. We are so honored to have been taken under the wing of our neighboring Tampa team, who shared their coaches and boat until The Benderson family donated a boat a boat to Sarasota Survivors in Sync. We have become a force to be reckoned with, both in and out of the water as we fundraise, find sponsors, and as we design our pins, jerseys, costumes and tent for the big day. We want to show Sarasota the strength a young team has with dedication and determination and to thank all of those that have helped us reach this exciting goal! Yes, we have been bitten by the dragon!
Hope to see you there in October; but beware, you may be smitten by that dragon!

by Linda Dallman-Repp

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