Who We Are

Dragon Boating, a sport that originated in China over 2000 years ago, is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Twenty paddlers sit two abreast in colorful 48-foot vessels while paddling to the beat of a drummer, the heartbeat of the dragon. View the trailer of award winning film, Awaken the Dragon to learn more about the origin of Dragon Boat Charleston.

Dragon Boat Charleston (DBC) is made up of about 150 members in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Some are cancer-survivors, some are community paddlers, some are premiere racers and some like to watch the sunset on the Ashley River. There is a boat for everyone at DBC! DBC participates in 4-5 races per year, has off-season programs like yoga and nutrition classes and numerous social and recreational gatherings throughout the year. Some call it a “floating support group,” some call it a family. Whatever it is…it’s fun! You’ve got to check it out!

Our Mission

We promote the physical and mental health of cancer survivors and their community through dragon boating.

Our History

DBC has been paddling hard since 2003 with the mission of promoting physical and mental wellness among cancer survivors and their community. DBC members can be seen almost any day of the week on the river, preparing for upcoming races, pushing themselves to physical limits or enjoying the sunset while on a paddling break.

Our Founders

Our Organization

DBC Milestones

  • August 2000

    Janet Bloch, ANP and Cindy Carter, Ph.D. receive funding to travel to University of British Columbia to meet with Don McKenzie, MD, Ph.D. and Sandy Smith of Abreast In A Boat.
  • May 2002

    Dragon boat arrives in Charleston sponsored by Aventis Pharmaceuticals.
  • 2002-2003

    Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) dragon boat program put on hold.
  • April 2003

    HCC dragon boat program restarted under leadership of Sterling Hannah, Director of Volunteer Services.
  • Summer 2003

    Paddlers recruited for first team. Includes both cancer survivors and community volunteers.
  • October 2003

    First racing competition at Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival.
  • August 2006

    Medaled in 1st US National Championship.
  • 2007-2008

    NCI research grant evaluates impact of dragon boating on cancer survivorship. Study design serves as model for DBC outreach program.
  • May 2008

    Dragon Boat Charleston established as independent 501c3.
  • May 2008

    1st Annual Charleston Dragon Boat Festival!
  • 2011

    Documentary film Awaken the Dragon premieres profiling DBC.
  • 2020

    1st Holiday Festival of Trees

What Our Paddlers Are Saying About DBC

  • Lynda, Cancer Survivor
    "I had no idea when I started paddling with DBC that it would become an essential part of my life. What started as having fun on the water in 2003 blossomed into a network of friends and a support group that kept me sane as I underwent surgery and chemo in 2005 and again in 2007. It’s an escape from the horrors of cancer, where I am accepted whether I am strong or weak."
    Lynda, Cancer Survivor
  • Belinda, Cancer Survivor
    "DBC provides a community that accepts everyone where they are physically, as well as emotionally, and allows them to fully participate in a true sport as a team member. Paddling provides a positive challenge for physical and emotional growth, combined with the beauty of the outdoors and just plain fun. It’s good medicine."
    Belinda, Cancer Survivor
  • Gene, Cancer Survivor
    "Having cancer revealed my physical vulnerability, produced great fear, and threatened my mortality. DBC enhances my physical strength and makes me fearless. The peacefulness of the water, the drum beating in time with my heart, and the communion between paddlers who have all faced a fearful foe, makes me feel immortal."
    Gene, Cancer Survivor
  • Lois
    "Water is an integral part of the Lowcountry. Getting outside to exercise is important for physical health and mental well-being. A person who has had surgery, been stuck in the infusion room or under a radiation machine (cut, poisoned and burned) doesn’t feel like doing anything. It sucks the strength from a person. You feel that you will never feel human again. You feel ruined. Dragon boating is an opportunity to get outdoors and become one with your body again. You start to feel like maybe you can overcome the cancer toll. You note your surroundings and realize what a great lifestyle the Lowcountry has. The exercise helps build your stamina and brightens your outlook on the future."
    Cancer Survivor
parallax background

Get Involved with Dragon Boat Charleston

Dragon Boat Charleston News & Events

August 17, 2021

To paddle a Dragon Boat in Charleston: It takes cancer survivors and grit

The Post and Courier featured Dragon Boat Charleston in a recent article.
August 17, 2021

Downtown Charleston restaurants in desperate need of boost find motivation in offbeat ways

The Post and Courier featured Dragon Boat Charleston in a recent article.
April 8, 2021

SRDBA Spring 2021 Newsletter

Welcome to SRDBA The Southeastern Regional Dragon Boat Association (SRDBA) promotes the sport of dragon boating by pro­viding a community that fosters education, training, and promotion […]

Our 2020 Sponsors


If you want to learn more about sponsoring DBC, please contact Neves Richards at neves@dragonboatcharleston.org

parallax background

Have Questions About How You Can Help?