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WheresCherie.COM Quote
"Art is a lie that enables us to realize the truth." -- Picasso

309--California: OC Dragons & Orange Roughys
@ Site News     Aug 09 2005 - 19:10 PST
cherie writes: They don’t do it for the trophies or the medals. The 20 members of the Orange Roughys, an all-cancer-survivor dragon boat team, races to honor the privilege of being alive.

Dragon boat racing has a 2000 year history in China where the ‘dragon’ is the symbol of water. The ancient Chinese used to hold mock battles with their dragon boats to encourage the rain. But the Orange Roughys aren’t battling each other—they are waging a war against cancer.

According to the Chinese Animal Zodiac, people born in the ‘year of the dragon’ are characteristically self-confident, energetic, ambitious and brave. That describes each of the Orange Roughys whose team’s motto is: “We’re so rough, we beat cancer.”

The Orange Roughys are made up of 20 cancer survivors that are a part of the larger team called the Orange County Dragons. The OC Dragons are comprised of 40 paddlers broken up into two 20-member teams: a co-ed team and an all-cancer-survivor team called the Orange Roughys. Both teams practice together twice a week out of the Newport Aquatic Center in Newport Beach, California.

A dragon boat is a flat-water racing canoe typically filled with 20 paddlers. Also onboard are a steersman and caller, whose job is to keep the crew synchronized with the methodical beat of a drum. The job of the caller is to beat the drum; the job of the Orange Roughy crew is to beat cancer.

Regina Savage, the OC Dragons team captain, discovered she had breast-cancer when she was 36. “I wanted to do something positive to help people with cancer get out of the hospital and onto the water,” said Savage who is a 5-year cancer survivor.

Dragon boat paddling is exercise with a splash of camaraderie. “Splash” is no play on words, the paddlers finish each practice soaked with a mix of perspiration and sea water. For many paddlers, Dragon boating is a social club with a twist. Instead of exchanging gossip, the members inspire each other and push the team towards greatness.

Linda Marcovici, a nurse at Hoag Hospital, works everyday with newly diagnosed cancer patients. “It works wonders on both a physiological level and on a physical level,” said Marcovici who is an 18-year breast-cancer survivor. “By helping survivors connect, dragon boating is a great intro into cancer survivorship.”

Dragon boating is a sport that both participants and spectators adore. It is the crew’s coordination, not raw power, which propels these canoes. In the recent Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival the Orange Roughys seamless coordination earned them 2nd place while the OC Dragons took 3rd place in their division.

Watching the Orange Roughys at the start of the race Coach Henry Kim saw a warm companionship mixed with the team’s fierce determination. “It was rewarding to see the drive and commitment in their faces,” said Coach Kim. “But it was more rewarding to see their smiles.”

Jean Montague, another member of the OC Dragons, finds the new friendships made as rewarding as the physical benefits of paddling. “Our team has so much heart and soul, it’s inspiring to just be apart of it,” said Montague.

“It’s not about winning or losing,” agreed Coach Kim. “Participating is the main goal. The reward is being a part of the team.”

Aloha Agostino, the oldest member of the OC Dragon crew at 78-years-old, joined the OC Dragons to build her strength. “I thought the exercise would be good for me, but I found out that I like racing.”

For some paddlers like Agostino, it’s about the dragon boat tournaments. Instead of just exercising, the paddlers find themselves training for a specific event. This goal gives the team a tangible focus. “Racing against other teams is a huge adrenaline rush,” said OC Dragon coach Henry Kim.

“It’s hard to describe the intense feeling at the start line when 8 dragon boats are lined up next to each other. The average dragon boat race time is 2 minutes and 30 seconds. For a paddler, it’s the most agonizing 3 minutes of your life. But when you cross the finish line, you don’t feel any pain,” said Coach Kim.

Coach Kim also keeps the paddlers smiling by focusing on the fun side of dragon boating. “If we make practice too serious, some paddlers won’t return.” said Coach Kim. “The rush of racing hooks people to the sport, but the fun of practice keeps paddlers coming back.”

The OC Dragons and Orange Roughys welcome new paddlers of all ages and physical ability. If you would like to learn how to paddle and join the team contact Captain Regina Savage at resavag@aol.com. If you or your company would like to make a donation or sponsor the OC Dragons contact Regina Savage at the above e-mail.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Ready to paddle?  Meet the Orange Roughys, an all-cancer-surviving dragon boat racing team that practices out of Newport Beach, California.

Ready to paddle? Meet the Orange Roughys, an all-cancer-surviving dragon boat racing team that practices out of Newport Beach, California.

The Orange Roughy motto is: We're so tough, we beat cancer.

The Orange Roughy motto is: We're so tough, we beat cancer.

Each member of the Orange Roughy crew is in various stages of cancer treatment and recovery.  They are all cancer-survivors.

Each member of the Orange Roughy crew is in various stages of cancer treatment and recovery. They are all cancer-survivors.

The Orange Roughys practice twice a week.

The Orange Roughys practice twice a week.

The Orange County Dragons practice with the Orange Roughys.

The Orange County Dragons practice with the Orange Roughys.

The jersey logo for the OC Dragons.

The jersey logo for the OC Dragons.

Ready to make a splash?

Ready to make a splash?

The OC Dragons.

The OC Dragons.

Let's go!

Let's go!

Paddling in unison.

Paddling in unison.

Coach Henry Kim stands at the bow with 7 years of dragon boat racing experience.

Coach Henry Kim stands at the bow with 7 years of dragon boat racing experience.

Stroke...stroke...stroke.

Stroke...stroke...stroke.

Lead paddlers Debi Boltinghouse and Barbara Attencio.

Lead paddlers Debi Boltinghouse and Barbara Attencio.

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.--Ralph Blum

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.--Ralph Blum

The paddlers glide past multi-million dollar homes.

The paddlers glide past multi-million dollar homes.

Debi works for the post-office during the week.  On Sundays, she paddles.

Debi works for the post-office during the week. On Sundays, she paddles.

The OC Dragons crew has 40 dedicated members, and they are always looking for new paddlers.

The OC Dragons crew has 40 dedicated members, and they are always looking for new paddlers.

Coach Henry Kim stands on the bow giving instruction.

Coach Henry Kim stands on the bow giving instruction.

Prepare to paddle like you've never paddled before.

Prepare to paddle like you've never paddled before.

It's not about strength; it's about technique.

It's not about strength; it's about technique.

Laughing through the pain.

Laughing through the pain.

This looks like fun!

This looks like fun!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.--
Helen Keller

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.-- Helen Keller

Dig deep!

Dig deep!

And we're getting exercise, too?

And we're getting exercise, too?

Steering at the back.

Steering at the back.

A quick rest brings a smile of relief.

A quick rest brings a smile of relief.

Here they come!

Here they come!

Make it burn.

Make it burn.

Hands in the water!

Hands in the water!

The OC Dragons are pure inspiration on the water.

The OC Dragons are pure inspiration on the water.

Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.--
Jawaharal Nehru

Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.-- Jawaharal Nehru

One way to get the most out of life is
to look upon it as an adventure.--William Feather

One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.--William Feather

After all that, they are still smiling!

After all that, they are still smiling!

The OC Dragons and the Orange Roughys practice together.

The OC Dragons and the Orange Roughys practice together.

Captain Regina Savage leads the team with her big smile.

Captain Regina Savage leads the team with her big smile.

Life is a pure flame,
and we live by an invisible sun within us.--Sir Thomas Brown

Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.--Sir Thomas Brown

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.--
Mahatma Ghandi

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.-- Mahatma Ghandi

Henry Kim coaches the team, but he doesn't like to be splashed.

Henry Kim coaches the team, but he doesn't like to be splashed.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.--
Charles A. Beard

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.-- Charles A. Beard

Lost in a sea of coordinated arms.

Lost in a sea of coordinated arms.

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.--Oprah Winfrey

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.--Oprah Winfrey

Dare to be remarkable.--Jane Gentry

Dare to be remarkable.--Jane Gentry

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.--Helen Keller

One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.--Helen Keller

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.--Lao Tzu

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.--Lao Tzu

Vision: the art of seeing things invisible.--Jonathan Swift

Vision: the art of seeing things invisible.--Jonathan Swift

Don’t be afraid your life will end;
be afraid that it will never begin.--Grace Hansen

Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.--Grace Hansen

Recent awards won by the OC Dragons and Orange Roughys.

Recent awards won by the OC Dragons and Orange Roughys.