I am very excited and pleased to see a long-time London, Ontario firm giving back to the community!!
It is with this excitement that I am writing to you in support of Rowbust Breast Cancer Survivor (BCS) Dragon Boat Racing Team. In 2007, I retired from Team Canada after competing at my 4th World Championship in Australia. After four years of driving back and forth from London to Toronto four times a week, I decided it was time to spend more time on my farm and, perhaps, just on me (selfishly). When Rowbust wanted to meet with me to discuss coaching their team of 25 BCS paddlers, I declined. I declined, thinking I was a National level coach who should be coaching a Canadian team, not an amateur BCS “fluff, pink team of women”.
They convinced me to take them on for a year to get them through a rough time and help get things back on track. It has been 11 years since I said, “I know nothing about cancer, it has not touched my family, but I will and can coach you as athletes”. History has seen these women rise above what they thought they could do, gain strength, fitness and, most importantly, confidence to do whatever it takes, and yes, sometimes that means fighting for a life.
They are now a club of 65+ paddlers training four times a week on Fanshawe Lake and their numbers are still growing! In 2019, they are going to compete for their 10th Canadian title and in 2020, their 4th World title. With these titles comes growth for the club, awareness for the community and confidence and comradery for individual athletes! Rowbust is committed to raising awareness about the positive benefits of physical activity after breast cancer in order to achieve the highest quality of life. In London and area, they have grown to be the “go-to group when one is diagnosed with breast cancer”.
With growth, come training needs and yes, I have stayed on to coach because now it would feel like leaving the family! I strive for more women to have the opportunity to benefit from this family!
We now train year-round and stay on the lake as long as possible, even into December in the snow. This allows us to compete at World Championships in other parts of the world with a different paddling season. We must keep paddling. With this team growth and development come other needs such as a proper coach boat. We do have a boat which holds three persons, meaning that if we needed to rescue retrieve paddlers from the water, it would take a while to retrieve and take them back to shore. This would obviously be a bigger safety concern during the off and shoulder seasons when water temperatures are much colder. A new flatwater boat would be able to transport an entire crew back to shore at once! These boats also create a no-wake environment and allow a coach to see and coach four to five boats at one time! No-wake is paramount on Fanshawe Lake in the summer, as we share the lake with rowers, canoeists, paddleboarders, kayakers, and sailors.
Funds through the Lerners LLP 90th Anniversary Charitable Giveaway would be used toward the purchase of a proper safety/coach boat to safely facilitate more athletes on the water at one time. Consequently, we would be developing future role models and mentors in the Breast Cancer Community in London and area!
Learn more about Rowbust Dragon Boat Racing