At the age of 36 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As a single mother with a 10 year old daughter I was very concerned about our future. During one of my chemotherapy sessions I read an article about a dragon boat team in British Columbia. Dr. Don McKenzie was a sport physician who created the first breast cancer survivor dragon boat team in the world during a research project in which he studied sports and the impact on lymphedema. I was very interested. In early 2000, Dr. Annette Richard, a London physician, appeared in an article in The London Free Press discussing the benefits of exercise for individuals recovering from Breast Cancer. Dr. Richard encouraged people from the area to attend an information session about forming a Dragon Boat Racing Team. The turnout was tremendous, and Rowbust was founded. I was amongst the first to join the team and the experience has forever changed my life. Over the past 20 years, I have met wonderful people while serving as chairperson, paddler, committee member and most recently, co-chair of the Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival.
Graham Porter, Partner at Lerners LLP London Office was instrumental in ensuring Rowbust became a registered charitable organization, registered as a corporation, and that the team name was registered. Over the years, Graham has been an invaluable support for our Volunteer Board of Directors.
Rowbusts’ Vision is to continually be a community leader helping those with breast cancer achieve the highest quality of life. Through their mentorship of breast cancer survivors, Rowbust team members are role models for both family and community. Rowbusts’ dream also includes giving back to the community therefore, team members hosted the first Fanshawe Dragon Boat Festival in 2012 to share with participants the benefits of fitness, exercise and dragon boating. Now an annual event, the festival has been very successful, attracting more than 1,500 paddlers of all ages and hundreds of spectators yearly. In addition, we partnered with the London Health Sciences Foundation to raise money for the ACT Now Foundation. Teams have pledged over $75,000 to support patients going through cancer treatment at the London Regional Cancer Centre.
Over the years, team members have evolved into true role models and elite athletes competing in regional, national and international competitions. Rowbust is nine-time National Champions and three-time Club Crew World Champions in the Breast Cancer Division at the international level. Team members train year-round to get stronger and faster on the water, but also provide friendship and support for each other through our journeys of survivorship and, all too often, the journey back through cancer again. Members we have lost become the angels who push us forward. I believe this is a remarkable team and incredible group of survivors.
Funds received through the Lerners LLP 90th Anniversary Charitable Giveaway would be used to purchase a flat-bottom safety/coach boat that will help our coaches prepare our team to compete and defend their world title at the next Club Crew World Competition, France 2020.
Learn more about the Rowbust Dragon Boat Racing Team