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Paddlers from Garden City Collegiate were winners at the Manitoba School Dragon Boat Challenge in June.

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Paddlers from Garden City Collegiate were winners at the Manitoba School Dragon Boat Challenge in June. Photo Store

Garden City Collegiate students paddled their way to victory recently during the Manitoba School Dragon Boat Challenge, pulling in $2,000 for their school.


A sea of students decked out in colourful T-shirts moved good-naturedly all day in and out of vividly coloured, long, slender boats rigged with mythical Chinese dragon heads brightening an otherwise cloudy, rainy day at the Manitoba Water Ski and Wakeboard Park in Winnipeg.


 "It was fun and a good workout," said one Garden City student, of the event held in early June.


Schools from across the province participated in many races throughout the all-day event.
"Both the Manitoba Paddling Association and the Canadian Cancer Society (Manitoba Division) are partners in the event," said Jason MacInnes, director of charity and events with the MPA.


"The Manitoba School Dragon Boat Challenge started about a decade ago... and had about 12-15 teams. It has grown to around 60 teams and will continue to grow."


In addition to the many other traditional races between different schools, the top eight fundraising teams from various schools were given the opportunity to participate in a race to raise money for their school.


"The Canadian Cancer Society came up with this unique format to get students involved before the festival," MacInnes said of the race, that was held for the first time this year.


"We tried to connect working as a team off the water fundraising with working as a team on the water racing."


"The money goes to the schools to be used on a special event for the students," MacInnes added.


"One of the exciting things about our sport is that it is a sport you can participate in regardless of age or ability. So, as the students get older, go through university and on with their lives, dragon boat programs will continue and they will get to participate, remembering their high school experience," he said.


Dave McKnight, of the Canadian Cancer Society, said the event "raised in the neighbourhood of $10,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society programs."


Money raised is used "to assist Manitobans who are fighting cancer, through research and service and support programs and advocacy," he adds.


In September, MPA will be partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society to hold a Dragon Boat Festival at the Forks. This event will feature mini-dragon boats with 10 paddlers involved versus the standard 20. A unique twist is planned for this event, in that boats will do a U-turn at the 250m mark.


In February, MacInnes said, the annual CCS Indoor Dragon Boat Festival will be held.
"If you’re wondering what this is, you have to see it to believe it," MacInnes said.


Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtgKzrLuYfw
For more general info or to get involved, contact the MPA office at 204-925-5681.

Cheryl Girard is a community correspondent for West Kildonan. You can contact her at girard.cheryl@gmail.com

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