Okanagan College students Saori Tsuge (left)

Okanagan College students Saori Tsuge (left)

Paddlers make a splash against cancer

Dragon boat festival raises more than $8,000 to support breast cancer awareness and care

Almost a week after paddlers from the Prospera Vernon Dragon Boat Festival took to the waters at Kalamalka Lake, the true success of the festival is beginning to show.

The festival’s success was certainly felt by the paddlers on the water but it also stretches far beyond the shore.

In just its second year being organized by Vernon Go Row and Paddle, this year’s festival has already raised more than $8,000 in support of breast cancer initiatives.

“When it’s new, it’s hard to predict what level of support it will get,” said Lisa George of Vernon Go Row and Paddle.

“It was very rewarding, it’s something we can build on for sure.”

This year’s success means that the festival may expand to bring in more boats next year as the sport gains popularity throughout the valley.

Most of this year’s teams were from within the Thompson Okanagan, including six teams from Vernon; the Buoyant Buddies, Dragon Riders, Poseidon’s Fury, Prospera Piranhas, Excel Fitness, and OK SpringLoaded.

“There is a strong demand for dragon boats throughout the valley,” said George.

Hosting the event at Kalamalka Lake in Coldstream played a major role in the success of this year’s event, despite the overwhelming heat.

“It was really hot but that’s OK. That’s the Okanagan in August and it was great to have the lake as a cool down for paddlers,” said George.

“Vernon is definitely a great destination, it’s such a desirable location.”

Bruce Howell, CEO of Prospera Credit Union, is thrilled with the festival’s success and knows that the support will be felt strongly within in the community.

“We are proud to partner with local organizations like the Vernon Rowing and Paddling Centre to showcase all that the Okanagan has to offer,” he said.

“We’d like to thank the GO Rowing and Paddling Association of Canada for the amazing job they have done in putting together this inspiring event in support of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, which will enable them to better serve the needs of the local community through the purchase of critical breast cancer diagnostic equipment.”

For more information and results from the festival visit the events page at www.gorowandpaddle.org.