Acworth played host to its first Dragon Boat Festival in May. Breast cancer survivors and their supporters paddled across Lake Acworth in friendly competition to increase awareness of breast cancer and to promote an active lifestyle during and after treatment.
Dragon boat festivals are held across the United States and in several countries. The Acworth event, which was held May 6 at Dallas Landing, was organized by Linda Evans, a two-time cancer survivor and president of nonprofit Dragon Boat Atlanta. The group is made up of cancer survivors and supporters who want to increase awareness of breast cancer. Members believe exercise plays an important role to achieve the highest quality of life. Proceeds from the event will benefit Loving Arms Cancer Outreach and Dragon Boat Atlanta.
Eight teams participated in the Acworth event, including teams representing the cities of Acworth and Kennesaw. The Acworth team was led by Mayor Tommy Allegood and included city officials and business people. Presenting sponsor Northside Hospital Cancer Institute was represented by two teams, and three teams were made up of cancer survivors. JB Jams provided music for the event and Acworth restaurants including Henry’s Louisiana Grill and Huey Luey’s provided food.
Dragon boat teams raced across Lake Acworth throughout the morning. Around noon, two boats filled with cancer survivors paddled onto the lake, joined hands to link the boats, and then tossed flowers into the water in honor of loved ones who died from cancer, survivors and people fighting the disease.
“The highlight of the festival is always the flower ceremony because it brings into focus exactly why we are paddling — for those who have gone and those who are surviving,” said Evans. “As a paddling survivor, every time I cross the finish line I remember how fortunate I am. The thrill is the greatest.”
Evans said she always wanted a dragon boat festival in Cobb County and hopes it will become an annual event.
Carletta K. Cunningham, a business program manager with IBM, served as a team captain. “It was an incredibly fun and festive event,” said Cunningham. “I was most touched by the fact that I assembled a group who began as strangers but did not end that way. The camaraderie was amazing between and amongst all participants.”
Dale Jones, a Realtor with Atlanta Communities, was also a team captain. “I was amazed at how the team came together, never had met each other, and paddled their hearts out as a TEAM! The highlight for me was the flower ceremony … to see those two boats filled with cancer survivors gives us all hope!”
Go to www.dragonboatatlanta.org, or follow the group on Facebook for more information about Dragon Boat Atlanta.
By Carla Caldwell, title editor of Around Acworth magazine