By Rebecca Boone:
Buffalonians are no strangers to the Buffalo waterfront- a staple of summer in the city. But it’s likely you’re a stranger to the huge painted dragons that stick their necks up high at the prow. Fortunately you can get acquainted with them this Saturday, June 16th, as Buffalo hosts the inaugural Hope Chest Buffalo Niagara Dragon Boat Festival at Buffalo’s Gallagher Beach, which is open to the public and free of charge.
Hope Chest provides free exercise and paddling programs for breast cancer survivors, and some of its members have been paddling for over a decade. As dragon boat racing has recently exploded into the fastest growing arena of water sports and gained in popularity in such places as Southern Ontario, Hope Chest Board of Directors member Becky Landy said it was a natural progression to bring it across the border.
Hope Chest has received support from community sponsors since the decision was made six months ago with the Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission to make this dream a reality in Buffalo. Support has also come from the Coast Guard and local companies and organizations such as the Buffalo Police Department and Tim Horton’s who will be two among 24 teams competing on Saturday.
Each team will have 21 paddlers and 3 alternates, while the steerers and boats will be provided by the event coordinator Mike Kerkmann, who organizes dragon boat races across the country and owns a dragon boat company in Tampa, Florida.
The Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team will be one of the 24 teams and will certainly be a boat to keep your eye on because they workout year-round and have experience attending various dragon boat festivals.
“The survivors have moved from a state of fear and apprehension following their diagnosis to strong and confident women,” said Anne Kist, the Program Director and Coach of the Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team.
The goal of the festival is to help the Hope Chest Dragon Boat Team raise funds to travel to more competitions, and the event gives Buffalonians the opportunity to see an up and rising sport… and to perhaps add it to their list of dedicated sports in the future. For more information, click here.