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!
We promote the physical and mental health of cancer survivors and their community through dragon boating.
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.
DBC Board of Directors
Lucy Spears, President
Maria Copses, Vice President
Noreen Powers, Treasurer and Founder
Jim Trusso, Secretary
Madelyn Graf, Survivor Liaison
Susan Collins, Community Liaison
Phil Brooks, Member-at-Large
Cindy Wynne, Member-at-Large
Sterling Hannah, Founder
Cindy Carter, Founder
Louise Graf, Founder
Safety: Louise Graff, Chair
Finance: Noreen Powers, Chair
Outreach: Sterling Hannah, Chair
Coaching: Monica Selinsky, Chair
Event & Race Selection: Members change annually
Communications: Maria Copses, Chair
Wellness: Alice Bova, Chair
*Amy Brennan serves on each committee as Executive Director
August 2000Janet 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 2002Dragon boat arrives in Charleston sponsored by Aventis Pharmaceuticals.
2002-2003Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) dragon boat program put on hold.
April 2003HCC dragon boat program restarted under leadership of Sterling Hannah, Director of Volunteer Services.
Summer 2003Paddlers recruited for first team. Includes both cancer survivors and community volunteers.
October 2003First racing competition at Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival.
August 2006Medaled in 1st US National Championship.
2007-2008NCI research grant evaluates impact of dragon boating on cancer survivorship. Study design serves as model for DBC outreach program.
May 2008Dragon Boat Charleston established as independent 501c3.
May 20081st Annual Charleston Dragon Boat Festival!
2011Documentary film Awaken the Dragon premieres profiling DBC.
What Our Paddlers Are Saying About DBC
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."