Dragonheart Vermont inviting first time paddlers to join the sport

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 12:11 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s a sure sign of summer-- dragon boats gliding across Lake Champlain. They’re best known for the Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival, their sisters teams and supporting the breast cancer community, but Dragonheart Vermont is open to everyone.

“Not only do you become part of a community invested to giving back to our own community, but you become more invested yourself,” said coach Brett Haug.

Thursday was their first “try it out” night of the season. Novice paddler Julie Rossignol joined them for her second outing on one of the iconic 22-person boats.

“It’s very exciting to do and it’s competitive and beautiful on Lake Champlain,” said Rossignol, an occupational therapist who has recommended the activity but hadn’t tried it herself until this week. “They make sure you know what you’re doing. It’s at your own rhythm, honestly. I’ve already been welcomed with open arms, so it’s fantastic.”

“I got involved because I’m a breast cancer survivor,” said Pat King, who’s been with the group for 16 years. “You know when we get diagnosed with breast cancer it’s like a punch in the gut. This has been my silver lining. I’ve met people here I never would have met.”

Because when the life jackets are tucked away and the paddles are back in the shed, it’s all about community.

“An evening like [Thursday] where we can invite people in who have always had that curiosity about us is a treasure for us,” King said.

Dragonheart Vermont will hold two more “try it out” nights this summer. The next one will be on June 20. Click here for more details.

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Dragon boats return to Lake Champlain