Orlando First Dragon Boat is finally here!

Orlando Dragon Boat

Dragon Boat racing is a Chinese tradition which originated in China over 2000 years ago and spread to the whole world and became a very popular team-building sport. Asia Trend has media sponsored and reported Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival in City of Tavares and South Florida Dragon Boat Festival in Miami for many years. When I heard about a new Dragon Boat coming to my hometown Orlando, I was so excited and anxious to know more about it. After joining them in the Dragon Boat Launch Party at Orlando Rowing Club on April 8th, I sat down with Andrea Eliscu who spearheaded to bring in the dream boat and it is pink.

Orlando first Dragon Boat
Shelley Lake eye dotting the Dragon Boat

S: Tell me little bit about Women Playing For T.I.M.E. and how you related to them?

A: Women Playing for TIME (Technology, Immediate Diagnosis, Mammography and Education) is a group of women volunteers whose sole goal is to raise money to defeat cancer as it affects women their family and friends. We want the money raised to stay totally in Orlando for use by Orlandoans. All money WPFT raises goes to MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando for the purpose of defeating cancer. We have raised $8 million to this cause in 17 years.

Orlando first Dragon Boat
Andrea Eliscu and Shelley Lake

S: What does Dragon Boat mean to you all at Women Playing For T.I.M.E.

A: WPFT wanted to broaden its base of volunteers, events and projects so we could engage more donors, raise more money and have a more diverse story to tell. The dragon boat is
rich in history, is all about community, is fun, can be diverse and is new to Orlando as a team sport. We know that pink dragon boaters, who are all breast cancer survivors, are
very engaged in pink dragon boating around the world. Creating a team we would sponsor and buying a boat branded for WPFT seemed a logical step for us. Orlando first Dragon BoatWPFT is totally supported by the Orlando Health Foundation and included in their vision of fundraising for breast cancer is also the mission of supporting health and wellness
wherever possible. Dragon boating meets all those criterias.

Orlando first Dragon Boat
Orlando Taiko Dojo special performance

Orlando first Dragon Boat

S: Share with me any miracle moment during the process of launching this first dragon boat.

A: When we learned at the 2009 WDW Festival that GWN Dragon Boat, event planners from Toronto, would leave us a leased boat and we had to find a lake to store it within 16 hours, the Orlando Rowing Club held a conference call and told us we could put the boat there. When we learned to get the dragon boat off the 18 wheeler truck and into Lake Fairview in Orlando, we would need an extended arm tow truck – within 45 minutes one of our breast cancer survivor pink paddlers’s brother had that arranged for early the next morning. When Keith Johnson of Hughes towing met us at the dragon boat and heard the story of why we were getting the dragon boat, he donated his towing services. When our new pink boat arrived in mid-April, Keith was there to get it off the truck and onto the trailer, again at no fee. $600 in towing fees donated to our dragon boat initiative is a lot when you work so hard for every penny you raise to fight women’s cancer.

Meeting you, Shally, and having you help us in finding a way to get involved with our Asian community who are so much a part of the history and story of dragon boating is another treasure.

Orlando first Dragon Boat
Sifu Bill Warden Dragon Dance performance

S: I know you all need more paddlers. If anyone wants to try, what should they do?

A: Our vision is to create an active dragon boat club which is managed by the Orlando Rowing Club. We hope to have recreational teams who sign up on the online calendar and fill the 20-seat boat. We also hope to build a 45+yo team, a 35+yo team, a mixed team and another survivor team who will come together, practice and enter regional festivals to race and have fun.

Everyone is welcome no matter what size, shape, age. Just go online to orlandodragonboatclub.org, go to dragon boat, go to calendar, and then email from there what practices you’d like to join.

We hope to have many corporate teams who may work all year to be competitive and also corporate teams who will come together to race only in the WDW International Festival
which is open to all.

Orlando first Dragon Boat
Orlando first Dragon Boat launches

Orlando first Dragon BoatS: Any special people or organization would you like to thank in this project?

A: We are very grateful for the Orlando Health Foundation, MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, the Orlando Rowing Club and our pink team, Warriors on Water. Everyone has played a role in our evolution so far. We especially want to thank philanthropist, Harriett Lake whose generous gift allowed us to buy a dragon boat.

We also want to thank the Asia Trend Magazine for showing an interest in our efforts and joining us at the welcoming of Orlando’s first dragon boat.

Article:  Shally Wong / Photos: John Chung and C.K. Lau (To view the photo album, visit www.facebook.com/asiatrend

Orlando first Dragon Boat
Chinese American Association of Central Florida Board of Directors and Grace Genetia

I am moved by their spirit, courage and friendship. I highly recommend anyone to try this water sport which is fun, healthy and good for all ages. To know more about Women Playing For T.I.M.E’s future activities, please visit www.wpft.org. Want to schedule a practice, please visit www.orlandorowingclub.com