The 10th annual Rose Regatta Dragon Boat Festival takes place Saturday at Lake Las Vegas with the goal of raising funds for local women and men who otherwise can’t afford to pay for mammograms, biopsies, surgeries and other needed medical procedures. All proceeds will benefit Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican’s R.E.D. (Responsible Early Detection) Rose program.
Dragon boats are human-powered long boats seating 18 to 20 people consisting of paddlers, a steersperson at the helm and a drummer who sets the speed and synchronicity of the paddlers. The streamlined boats are usually made of carbon fiber or other lightweight materials and decorated with Chinese dragon heads and tails.
This annual fundraising event is sponsored this year by the Las Vegas Dragon Boat Club and organized by local breast-cancer survivors. Team divisions formed for the one-day competition include corporate/community teams, local and out-of-state dragon boat club teams, women’s teams, the local Pink Paddlers breast cancer survivor’s team and a junior dragon’s team for youngsters 12 to 18 years of age.
Terry Maurer, this year’s race director, said each race will be 250 meters, and every team is guaranteed two races. Money is being raised through team sponsorships of $2,500 to $10,000 and from portions of food and other vendors’ funds the day of the races. The Las Vegas Dragon Boat Club also will be donating a check to Dignity Health after the event.
Maurer, 56, is a breast-cancer survivor and thinks it’s wonderful that this year’s festival is being run by survivors like herself. No one is receiving salaries, and she likes the fact that the local dragon boat community is in charge of the races. In previous years some 3,000 people have attended the festival, and from 65 to more than 70 teams have participated.
“We need to do this for women and men who don’t have money for biopsies. Early detection has proven to save lives,” Maurer said.
She also pointed out how important it is that breast-cancer survivors are participating in the races. At one time the medical community warned against survivors taking part in strenuous exercises after surgeries for fear that lymphedema, swelling of the lymph nodes in the upper arm areas, would occur. But this was disproved by Dr. Donald McKenzie of the University of British Columbia.
McKenzie trained a team of breast-cancer survivors for the first dragon boat festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1996. The races proved that strenuous upper-body exercise didn’t cause lymphedema and actually improved health.
“This festival is one of our hallmark programs,” said Randy Boynton, vice president of marketing and communications at Dignity Health. “It’s been around a long time and is very important to our community.”
Patti Kellerhouse, 60, is in charge of organizing volunteers for the festival. A breast cancer survivor, her cancer recently came back after nine years in remission. As an oncology clinical research consultant, she is now taking the drug she worked on for eight years.
“It’s really important to have a positive attitude when you have cancer, and this festival is like having a floating support group,” Kellerhouse said. “This is also important to me because I have two daughters, and I don’t want them to go through what I am (going through). I just want to help my community.”
Kellerhouse said she is seeking volunteers to help with general admission, aiding people in and out of boats, getting teams ready, putting up tents, directing traffic, removing trash and repairing the dragon boats.
The first race of the festival kicks off at 8 a.m., followed by a team-spirit rally and a performance by Kaminari Taiko. A ceremony takes place at 11:30 a.m., during which a blessing will be given and teams will ceremoniously toss roses into the water.
Division finals begin around 2 p.m., followed by on-going awards ceremonies. At approximately 3:45 p.m., the division knockout rounds take place.
For more information, contact Maurer at email@example.com or call 702-497-3385.