To provide breast cancer survivors with an opportunity to participate in strenuous repetitive upper body exercise, to demonstrate in dragon boat competition the benefits of an active lifestyle and to raise public awareness of the disease.
WhyWePaddle – OurObjective
- promoting awareness of breast cancer through public outreach.
- celebrating life through the pursuit of fitness and wellness
- providing hope and mutual support
- honouring the memory of those who have died of breast cancer
We believe anyone with breast cancer who wishes to participate should have the opportunity to join in this healthy, supportive, and inspirational sport.
The Island Breaststrokers dragon boat team of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada was formed in the fall of 1996 by Marjorie Woodroffe after she witnessed Vancouver’s “Abreast in a Boat”, the original breast cancer survivor team, race in the 1996 Victoria Dragon Boat Festival. Since our 1997 racing debut, IBS has been committed to promoting public awareness of breast cancer and stressing the need for early detection. We are women from all walks of life, proud to be models of a healthy lifestyle. We prove that regular physical exercise plays a critical role in helping women living through breast cancer to return to an unrestricted, active lifestyle. We have been lucky enough to take our message around the world to places like South Africa, Singapore, Australia and Miami. We call VI Paddling on the Gorge, home.
The flower ceremony has become an important tradition in breast cancer survivor Dragon Boat racing. Immediately following the breast cancer survivor races, survivor teams come together in a place on the water where the audience on shore can be part of the flower ceremony, and the boats are rafted together.
Usually a commentator, often a breast cancer survivor, will say a few words about breast cancer awareness, the importance of celebrating the lives of survivors, of offering hope to those still battling cancer, and of honoring those who tragically have lost the battle to the disease.
When the music begins, each paddler raises a pink flower above her head and holds the hand of a fellow paddler in the next boat. With flowers raised, the paddlers sway to the music, and the audience on shore, many of whom have relatives and friends affected by the disease, raise their flowers and sway with the paddlers. At a signal, the paddlers and those on the shore toss the pink flowers on the water, both to celebrate survival, and to remember those who did not survive.
The flower ceremony has become a very meaningful ritual for paddlers and audiences alike.
Though we are different ages and come from different walks of life we have that common thread that bonds us. The times we spend with each other and the memories we covet shall carry us through the rollercoaster of life.