17th Dragon Boat Festival takes to Lake Champlain

Published: Aug. 6, 2023 at 11:49 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival returned this year, giving people the opportunity to raise money to support cancer survivors.

“I am here to celebrate life with the rest of the Dragonheart community,” said Nina Atkinson, a member of Dragonheart Vermont.

Lake Champlain was full of boats Sunday for the 17th Dragon Boat Festival. People could watch or participate in the races where community members paddle for a cause. There are pledge forms to keep track of donations and supporters can donate online or buy a hat and/or a shirt as a donation.

“This is an amazing organization that takes care of its community whether it’s virtual when we had to change during the pandemic, but we did continue to support the community,” said Atkinson.

The spirit of friendship was truly in the air.

“I love the camaraderie that we have, it’s just beautiful-- everybody loves everybody,” said Louise Plouffe of Williston.

Plouffe has been paddling for years and says it’s a way to relieve stress.

“When I’ve had problems in my life, this has been my oxygen and when I don’t have problems, I just enjoy it anyway I mean you forget about everything when you’re paddling,” said Plouffe.

The festival included a breast cancer survivor flower ceremony that recognizes survivors of breast cancer. It serves as a moment to honor those that lost their battle with the disease.

“For me, the flower ceremony is the heart and soul of the festival. flower ceremony is a time where everybody here stops for a moment... Colorful, beautiful day and it’s to raise money for an excellent cause,” said Eugenie Doyle, a breast cancer survivor.

The festival’s organizers hope to inspire people to support Dragon Heart Vermont and their pledge partner this year, McClure Miller House in Colchester. It’s a Medicare-certified inpatient residence where supportive care and services are provided.

Along with supporting the cause, people involved say the race creates bonds that will last a lifetime.

“I am the middle child of three, older brother and younger brother, and I can so proudly say that I have 66 sisters which are my breast cancer teammates,” said Atkinson.