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Cornelius News

Healing Dragons paddle for a cause

Healing Dragons try to beat cancer one paddle at a time. Pam Boileaus, president of Healing Dragons, is third from right.

By Dave Yochum. Ramsey Creek Park came to life May 18 with the Asian Festival and the Charlotte Dragon Boat Race. In the midst of all the action there was a determined group—many of them Cornelius cancer survivors—absolutely stoked for the challenge.

Their name: The Healing Dragons.

Pam Boileau, a Cornelius resident and a local Realtor, would like cancer survivors and their supporters to consider joining.

Practices are held every Saturday morning and Wednesday night, weather permitting, at Latta Plantation on Mountain Island Lake. Each year the team’s first local race is at the Asian Festival and new members could be a part of this race if they have attended at least two practices.

Boileau, who is president of the team, said joining Healing Dragons was one of the best decisions she has made.

“I have gotten stronger physically and mentally, made lifelong friends. competed regionally and internationally and supported cancer survivors on their journey to wellness,” she says.

During the past 10 years, Healing Dragons has had more than 200 members, participate in 70 races, conducted numerous speaking engagements and supported events such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

Last year the team participated in the 120-team International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission Participatory Festival in Florence, Italy.

Dragon Boat racing, an international sport that dates back 2000 years to southern China, is growing quickly. The 40-foot long boats are powered by 22-person teams that include paddlers, a helmsman and a drummer.

Boileau saw the sport at the Asian Festival nine years ago and was hooked.

“Nowhere had I ever seen teams of people having so much fun on the water and getting lots of physical exercise in the process,” Boileau says. Along the way, members of the Healing Dragons can model out the importance of wellness, mental and physical health and support for cancer survivors.

Don’t get in the way of a speeding dragon boat: they can power along at speeds approaching 10 mph, all of it thanks to women and men.

The last part of the race is called the “charge,” and it’s all mental, all synchronized.

Interested in learning more? Visit the website at www.healingdragons.org. Additional information on practices and races is also available on the Healing Dragons Meet Up page.