It isn’t too late to get involved in the 2021 Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival. Due to COVID-19 the festival has gone virtual, but Gina Lee, chair for this year’s event, said there are still ways to show your support.
“We have a lot of activities and a virtual race that are safe to do at home and in your community,” said Lee. “We are getting a lot of participation and creativity.”
You can find a list of activities on the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival website. Register online, log your activities and the more points you get, the further you get in the virtual race.
You can get points by doing everything from walking the dog to posting a video online for the #Paddleathome challenge.
This is the 20th anniversary of the event and Lee said they are hoping to raise $84, 509.18. It might seem like an odd amount, but Lee said it is a nod to the inaugural race.
“Twenty years ago when we had our very first festival, the amount that they raised was $84 509.18,” said Lee. “Strangely enough, they were fundraising to buy a new ultrasound machine for the Breast Assessment Centre at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC).
“So this year we decided to make it historically valuable, set the same target and we are actually fundraising to replace with a brand new diagnostic ultrasound machine in the Breast Assessment Centre.”
To date, the festival has raised more than $3.6 million for screening, diagnosis and treatment through the PRHC foundation.
“It was important for us to let everyone know, let the hospital know, that we are doing whatever we possibly can to help them,” said Lee.
Lee said they are also encouraging people to send in a video of themselves doing a personal flower ceremony, an iconic tribute where participants throw a flower into the water to remember those who’ve lost their battle with breast cancer and send wishes to those currently going through treatment.
“The flower ceremony is one of the most important parts of our festival,” said Lee. “We are compiling the videos and are going to release a virtual tribute on festival day.”
Lee herself is a cancer survivor and has seen the impact of not only the money raised, but also the festival itself first hand.
“The first time I attended the festival, it was magical. It was just like something that Walt Disney would have dreamed up,” she said. “It was such a positive atmosphere and I really caught the bug and thought I have to be part of this to give back to the community and it has made such a difference in my own life.”
She added it has been a significant part of her recovery.
“I feel happy, healthy, and looking forward to the future and I would encourage anyone to get involved in some way. Even if it is just something small, it is always needed.”
Signs will be placed at the T-wharf on Little Lake in Peterborough, Ont., with a small number of board members attending the site on June 12, 2021.