It’s a unique sorority, this group of women who are all in the same boat, pulling together for one common goal: Hope.
They are breast cancer survivors and they make up a dragon boat racing team called Pink Paddling Power — part paddling team, part support group.
“We are sisters of the heart,” Lee Nehmer, a 10-year survivor, told fox6now.com. “We share our survival tips. We share our struggles, and cry sometimes. We share immense joy, but the best thing that we share is hope.”
Well, hope and an impressive competitive drive. These women are not only united in spirit but are in sync with their paddles, to the tune of U.S.champions.
The Pink Paddling Power Team has gone from an idea spawned from the Wheaton Franciscan Cancer Care — All Saints in Racine, Wis., in 2006 to U.S.champions in the breast cancer division today.
Consequently, 29 of the 36 team members, ages 46 to 71, will be competing in the Club Crew World Championships of Dragon Boat Racing in Hong Kong, starting July 4.
Fox6now.com has their story:
Dragon boat racing originated more than 2,000 years ago in China and is said to be one of the earliest forms of boat racing.
The boat is canoe-like with a dragon head at the front and ad ragon tail at the rear. A drummer sits in front of the paddlers, drumming a rhythmic beat to help them with their timing and paddling strokes.
A steersman in the rear controls the boat with a steering oar. In this case, it’s a male, Bryan Siebenlist, who is a bartender by night,dragon boat coach and steersman by day.
No question a strong bond exists among the Pink Paddling Power women, who were brought together by that unwanted common thread they happen to share.
“Unfortunately, the only requirement [for the team] is that you have to have breast cancer” or be in remission, Terri Smith, 59, told The (Racine) Journal Times.
“It is a wonderful group,” Nehmer told fox6now.com. “It’s just a horrible initiation.”