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Strand Notebook | Boat team paddles for the gold

Having survived cancer, the men and women who paddle the Dragon Boat at the Beach were already winners, but they had never paddled their way to the gold until recently.

In a letter to the team, Coach Beans Kelly wrote, “It was truly a magical weekend for Dragon Boat at the Beach (DBATB) in Salisbury, North Carolina. The venue was absolutely perfect with calm waters on High Rock Lake.”

In the first race, they set a new record for the DBATB of 1 hour, 16 minutes and 52 seconds in a 325-meter race, finishing second. In the second race, they again broke their record with a time of 1:17:74. With that, they made it to the “final medal races, making the C Major Gold.”

As always, they were mindful of their “angels” who could not be with them because they were undergoing treatment. Kelly had four of their names written on her arm in Magic Marker as the Dragon Boat at the Beach team paddled for the gold.

“This was our first real gold,” said Cheryl Brokow, marketing coordinator. “It was very emotional for everybody because we came from behind to win that race, and we were one of the older groups of people that were there.”

“This was the purest joy I have ever witnessed,” Kelly said. “There were tears, screams, hugs, high-fives. You name it, we experienced it all.”

Dragon Boat at the beach was started in 2007 by the Georgetown Hospital System as part of a wellness program, but the hospital system is no longer involved, and it is a 501-3(c) non-profit. Paddlers are cancer survivors, and the reserves (supporters) are survivors or family members of survivors. They range in age from about 50 to over 80.

The Reserves Marina in Litchfield donates space for the boat to be kept and staff time to help support the team. The team has parties and fundraisers, and welcomes corporate sponsors. The next fundraiser is a spaghetti dinner at Applewood House of Pancakes on Sept. 24 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

The teams paddle for wellness and for competitions. There are about 90 paddlers and different ones of them paddle out of the marina into the Intracoastal Waterway and then up and down the Waccamaw River several times weekly.

They come from different professions, live in different kinds of homes and drive different kinds of cars, but when they are together, they are all the same, Kelly said.

In her letter to the team after they won the gold in Salisbury, Kelly wrote, “The team represented our entire organization with class, integrity and the purest determination they could muster. I feel honored and humble to sit in front of you all on every paddle and I appreciate the efforts you give me. We are so blessed to have each other and provide support to one another in so many ways.”

Any cancer survivor that is able to paddle is welcome to join the Dragon Boat at the Beach team.

For more information, visit www.dragonboatatthebeach.com.

Contact PEGGY MISHOE at pegmish@sccoast.net or 365-3885.

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