When 750 paddlers hit the East River for the 16th Annual Dragon Boat Races on Saturday, they made up 37 teams and competed in 40 races. But more importantly, they raised $112,000.
That money will go to local Special Olympics and breast and prostrate cancer-related causes.
Marketing director Meghan Brophy and chair Bob Rogers said the group never sets a fundraising goal, and every year they’re amazed by how much people are willing to donate to the cause.
Of that $112,000, some $25,000 was raised by Glenn Hynes and Joan Murray of the Crombie Crushers, while $3,250 was raised by Aaron Bryant of the Crombie Crushers and $2,672 was raised by Nathan Hines, also of the Crombie Crushers. Phyllis Weaver from Women Alike Abreast a River raised $2,621, rounding out the top pledge earners list.
This year saw six “come from away” teams take part. Brophy said what motivates a team to come in from New Brunswick to take part is the same as it is for any other team – togetherness and a love for the cause.
“I think it’s really everything,” she said. “You saw the vibe out there for the Pink Carnation ceremony, I mean, it’s just togetherness. They fought this battle together and they’re coming to support the three beneficiaries, support the other women, and support the event as a whole. I think they just enjoy our event.”
Many teams are returning teams, and some of those have been taking part since the very first race. Brophy said what brings them back is the positive spirit of the event.
“The overall day’s event, it’s fantastic,” she said. “The positivity, the vibe, everything. I just think it’s a great, wonderful overall experience.”
For Bob Rogers, every year is a highlight. “The atmosphere here,” Rogers said, “the camaraderie, the spirit, we have a really good board that works well together, they’re all hard workers.”
The board will meet next month to formally put the 2017 races to bed, and then begin work on the 2018 event.
Both Brophy and Rogers said that the people who participate like knowing that all the money raised is used locally. Rogers said he was able to take a tour of the Aberdeen Hospital recently and see some of the equipment that the Dragon Boat Races helped acquire.
“I was really proud of that,” he said.