BCS Dragon Boat Teams
Three Rivers District Health Department is beaming with pride over the Kentucky Thorough Breast “Surviving in Sync” breast cancer survivor dragon boat racing team’s first place finish at the International Dragon Boat Festival for the Cure in Windsor, Canada. Three Rivers Health Department helped recruit the team and provides the dragon boat that the team uses for practice twice a week.
“From the sidelines several people said that it was like watching a fight scene from one of the Rocky movies. They were ahead, they were behind, then ahead again, then behind. Then at the end there was this surge of energy – a knock out.” Lori Thaxton a support team member described that third and final race.
Even without the announcer calling attention to the open seats in the boat, The Kentucky Thorough Breast was the recognized underdog with sixteen women competing against other breast cancer survivor teams with 18 to 20 seasoned paddlers. In addition, several members of the Kentucky team were sick or injured. Members from other breast cancer survivor teams helped fill the boat for the first race.
The odds were clearly against the Kentucky team. They took third in the first heat and paddling with only team members, they came in last place in the second. Team members were visibly exhausted when they took to the water for the third and final heat.
“Somehow in the final ‘winner takes all race’ they found an inner source of energy and endurance. They gave their all as a team and left nothing on the water!” their elated coach Priscilla Elgersma exclaimed as she presented her medal to the beaming team’s manager, Jim Thaxton.
Team Captain Tamina White knew the secret, “We were having fun and just paddling in sync but we were also paddling for Mighty Melissa”. Tamina was referring to Melissa Hatersley who was an active member of the team from their first meeting in November of 2008. Breast cancer took her life on January 21, 2011. The team dedicated their last race to her.
Michelle Caldwell is the team’s drummer. She sits on a small narrow seat behind the head of the dragon and sets the paddling pace by beating on a drum. Michelle said, “The team was in perfect timing. They were truly in sync as they have never been before. I could feel the surge with every stroke they took. It was as if we all became one body, one mind, one heart beating. We were really flying across the water.”
The Kentucky Thorough Breast “Surviving in Sync” will host Kentucky’s 2nd Annual Paddling for the Pink Dragon Boat Festival at A. J. Jolly Lake in Southern Campbell County on September 10, 2011. For more information on the festival, the team, and pictures from the race in Windsor visit www.KYthoroughbreasts.org.
Team with medals in photo as follows:
L-R Back - Marilyn Derfus, Lynne Clayton, Michelle Caldwell, Tamina White, Sherry DeWald, Phyllis Kelsch, Brenda Mahoney, Lisa Sarno, Janet Burris, Jim Thaxton, Carol Edwards, Priscilla Elgersma Anne Meese, Front Row, Julie Heenan, Amy McKinney, Pam Harper, Mary Sadler.