Donegal Dragons is preparing for its fourth season on Donegal Bay and the club has very exciting plans for 2018.
The dragon boat club is open to male and female breast cancer survivors and supporters aged 18 or over. There is no upper age limit, or indeed, fitness requirement.
Over the last three years, the club has gone from strength to strength, welcoming many new and returning members with its positive and inclusive ethos.
The sport of dragon boating goes back thousands of years in China and throughout south east Asia. But in recent times, it has been hailed as the best form of exercise for those recovering from breast cancer. New teams are now being formed all over the world and the Donegal Town club is very much a part of this exciting global movement.
In fact, Donegal Town woman Deborah Bonner who founded the club is the Irish representative for the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC) and is known throughout Ireland as being a great ambassador for the sport.
But she is quick to stress that while breast cancer survivors can particularly benefit from dragon boating, this is absolutely not part of the criteria for the Donegal club.
“You don't have to have had a cancer diagnosis,” said Mrs Bonner. “Everyone has some trauma or stress in their lives. Dragon boating will improve your quality of life. There is great camaraderie in the club. We are all literally in the same boat, supporting each other but we are having a lot of fun too.”
The upcoming open day ‘Try Something New’ on April 14 is the perfect opportunity to find out more. People can meet club members, have a chat and take to the water in the company of experienced paddlers.
Mrs Bonner said: “Most people who have come to try it have come back. You don’t need any experience. We have everyone from busy parents, people who are afraid of water and people who have never belonged to a team or a club in their lives. You don’t have to be physically fit. In fact, you will get fit without even realising it.
“I can promise that you will have fun and it will be the best couple of hours you will spend in the day.”
The club provides buoyancy aids and paddles. There will also be refreshments served. Anyone coming to the open day is asked to wear comfortable clothing and runners and to bring a bottle of water. The club will take care of everything else.
Mrs Bonner also wishes to reassure people that safety is the number one priority.
For anyone who cannot make it along to the ‘Try Something New’ event, Donegal Dragons plan to hold a monthly social paddle.
“This is suitable for newcomers or for people who just want to come along from time to time,” said Mrs Bonner. “It is very relaxed and is a great way to meet people or find out more about the club. We will have a cup of tea afterwards.
Other events that the club is looking forward to include the Donegal Dragons regatta on August 4. Last summer, the club held its first regatta. This was a huge success with clubs travelling from all around Ireland as well as from as far away as Liverpool. The pier at Donegal Town was a hive of activity as many people came along to witness the first ever dragon boat regatta in Donegal and of course, to support the local club. This year the hosts are looking forward to welcoming even more clubs, including a team from Nottingham.
Members are also excited about attending a number of regattas elsewhere. These include Athy, Liverpool, Carlow and Dublin
“Going to regattas shows you the bigger picture,” said Mrs Bonner. “You meet people from all over the world who share your passion. Everyone has their own reason for joining a dragon boat club. But it really brings people together in a way that is hard to describe. It is something very special and you really get a sense of that at regattas.
The club firmly believes in giving back to the community that has been so supportive. Activities so far have included regular clean-ups; fundraising fairy walks for LauraLynn Children’s Hospice; purchase of a defibrillator in conjunction with Donegal Bay Rowing Club; training for members in use of the defibrillator.
Donegal Dragons wish to thank everyone who continues to support the club.
More information on the club can be found on the Donegal Dragons Facebook page and also at donegaldragons.com
This year, five members of the Donegal Dragons will travel to Florence in Italy to participate in the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission (IBCPC) event
121 teams of breast cancer survivors from 17 countries will gather together for this event which is a life-affirming celebration of the thousands of people who take part.
The Donegal delegation is part of the Wild Atlantic Warriors, a team of male and female breast cancer survivors from all around Ireland. This relatively new team meet regularly to train at various clubs around the country.
The five local members are very grateful for all the support they have received in terms of fundraising and sponsorship.
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