Who We Are

Dragon Boat Charleston (DBC) has been redefining cancer survivorship since 2003. We are made up of more than 150 cancer survivors and community members in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. DBC hosts recreational and social gatherings throughout the year, has off-season programs like Winter Wellness, and participates in several races each year. Some call it a floating support group, some call it a family. Whatever it is…it’s life changing! 

In 2000, Janet Bloch, ANP and Cindy Carter, Ph.D. laid the groundwork for Dragon Boat Charleston, believed to be the first all-cancer survivor team in the U.S. View Liz Oakley's award winning film, Awaken the Dragon to learn more about Dragon Boat Charleston.

Our Mission

We promote physical and mental wellness among cancer survivors and their community through dragon boating.

Our Founders

Our Organization

DBC Board of Directors

Laura Francis, Chair
Lois Rinehimer, Vice Chair
Andrea Hughes, Treasurer
Rosa Fullerton, Secretary

Tanya Berg, Director
Rita Jones, Director
Debbie Philips, Director and Member Liaison
Donna Rizer, Director
Deb Yakunich, Director

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
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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 […]
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