An amateur dragon boater from Oak Bluff paddled his way down the Red River to raise money for charity on Sept. 6 and 7.
Unmesh Anant could only count on one hand the number of times he’d paddled a dragon boat before he signed his team up for The Dream Factory September Dragon Boat Challenge. He rallied 10 co-workers to join him at the Manitoba Canoe and Kayak Centre, the event’s host.
The challenge was a fundraiser for The Dream Factory, a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. Teams had to pay for a spot in the challenge, and participants were encouraged to raise money for The Dream Factory.
Anant, 37, raised nearly $1,000 before the event. He was the top individual fundraiser for the Dragon Boat Challenge. However, getting contributions wasn’t easy, he said.
"The tricky part is raising money," Anant said. "It seems like it’s difficult to get money for charity from other people."
Anant asked family and friends for donations, and he put requests on Facebook. He also donated money himself. Anant’s company sponsored the team’s dragon boat.
Anant said he didn’t find the event competitive — it was about enjoying the sport and raising money for charity.
"You’re not stressed out on performing, you’re just having fun for a good cause," Anant said.
Each team that participated was given two dragon boat training sessions. Teams learned how to paddle, including learning how to accelerate, slow down and move with a consistent speed.
Dragon boat groups paddled around an oval race course near the Manitoba Canoe and Kayak Centre. Each group needed 10 paddlers, a drummer and someone to steer.
The fundraiser’s dragon boats were smaller than average to accommodate people of all skill levels. Some of Anant’s colleagues had never gotten in a dragon boat before signing up for the fundraiser.
Anant has participated in two other dragon boat fundraisers with his employer. He’s always been a paddler.
He said events like The Dream Factory September Dragon Boat Challenge are a good way for people to raise money, try a new sport and bond with their co-workers.
"You get to know more people at work," he said.
The Dream Factory posts updates about its dragon boat fundraisers on their website, thedreamfactory.ca.
Gabrielle Piché is a community correspondent for Headingley and her. Email her at email@example.com
Community Correspondent — Headingley
Gabrielle Piché is a community correspondent for Headingley. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org