It all started 2,000 years ago: dragon boat races date back to the original games in Olympia in ancient Greece, and it is now the national sport of China.
This captivating competition is making its way to Lake Charles for the first of its kind fundraiser for the Children's Miracle Network on Saturday, April 27th.
Dragons will soon be led across the water at the hands of paddlers, like the intense team from Louisiana Mortgage Associates. Lynn Calles says, "We have watched a film on how to do it and are trying to get ourselves very prepared for it!"
While the dragon boats are not here just yet, by land these teammates are working on their synchronization in the hopes it will turn into success on the water. "We will get some team-building, get some exercising, just a fun-filled family day," said Calles.
Kay Barnett with the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Foundation needed a unique way to help reach the group's annual $1 million fundraising goal. Enter dragon boats! "instead of just writing a check to sponsor something, we wanted an event where not only can people sponsor teams, but they can also participate in the event as well," said Barnett.
Each dragon boat will have 22 people aboard, racing to the finish 600 feet away on the Lake Charles lakefront. "Each team will actually race in two heats to get their best time and then will be entered into a bracket for the finals," said Barnett.
Since dragon boat racing is not a skill most teams have crafted, there will be a professional helmsman provided to steer the boat. But, it still takes paddling in unison to get past the starting point. "You can't go wrong," said Calles, "there's 21 people in the boat and everyone working together."
Win or lose on the waters, it will be children in Southwest Louisiana that benefit from the money raised for heart health, sports injury prevention and childhood cancer treatments with the Children's Miracle Network.
The inaugural dragon boat race will be on Saturday morning, April 27th at 9:00 a.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center seawall. It will be followed by a family friendly tailgate and dance.
20 teams have signed up so far and there are spots still available for ten more. Each team member must be over the age of 12 and eight of the 21 paddlers must be female.
It is $2,500 a team with proceeds going to the Children's Miracle Network. Call the CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital Foundation at 430-5353 to register. The deadline is Friday!