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Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival encouraging younger participants

The 18th annual Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival is set for June 9. CHEX News file

The Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival has reduced the paddling age to encourage more participants this year.

Registration opened on Thursday for the 18th annual edition set for Saturday, June 9. A number of changes and upgrades were announced including prizes for the top three fundraising teams, along with individual signup options and the participation age limit lowered to 13 from 14.

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The festival on Little Lake this year will raise funds for breast cancer support at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

“We’ve lowered our paddling age threshold to 13 so that even more young people and families can take part on the water,” said festival chairperson Michelle Thornton.

“We’ve added a brand-new Paddler’s Pool where people can register online as individuals if they’d like to participate in the festival but don’t have a team.”

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More changes are occurring off the water with events at Del Crary Park including a vendors village (featuring local artisans and food vendors), a family-friendly Fun Zone complete with a pop-up skate park, axe-throwing, Zumba and tumbling, face-painting and crafts.

“The 2018 festival is about even more people having even more fun while raising money for a really important cause,” said Thornton.

The 2017 festival raised $182,518.58, bringing the 17-year total to more than $3.1 million.

PRHC Foundation president and CEO Lesley Heighway said many people might be surprised to know that without the lab, there would be no cancer care at PRHC where the lab processes more than 20,000 cancer-related cases annually.

“For a cancer patient and their loved ones, two of the hardest things to deal with are waiting and uncertainty,” she said.  “Doctors rely on lab results to determine and confirm 100 per cent of cancer diagnoses and treatment decisions so we’re investing in new laboratory automation technology that supports efficient processing of tissue and cytological samples taken during cancer biopsies and surgeries. As a result, lab technologists will be able to provide pathologists with the materials they need to make accurate breast cancer diagnoses even sooner.”

“We’re so grateful for the support of our partners, Survivors Abreast and Peterborough’s Dragon Boat Festival, and to every one of the paddlers, donors, volunteers and sponsors who make this amazing event such a success.”

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An open house on March 22 at Trent University Athletics Centre (7 p.m.- 9 p.m.) will offer more info on the event and the opportunity to try paddling in a demo tank.

“Breast cancer affects one in eight women,” said Thornton. “We want to make sure that the tests and treatment that can save lives are available right here in our community, at our hospital.”

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