Dragon boats fill Ashley River for cancer patients

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Dragon boats graced the waters near Brittlebank Park on Saturday as part of a floating fundraiser for cancer research.

The seventh annual Dragon Boat Festival raises money to help cancer survivors race without having to pay for a boat. Each team is made up of 20 paddlers and one drummer.

Dragon Boat Charleston provided a steerperson, life jackets, and paddles.

There were awards for tent decoration and most original team shirts. There was also plenty of food and live music as well with a party that followed the races on the Ashley River.

Meagan Labriola, the executive director of Dragon Boat Charleston, says they were expecting 6,000 people for the event between racers and fans along the banks.

"This is such a wonderful event. It gets so much community support, and I think that's because, most unfortunately, cancer touches every one of us in one way or another, so I think this is a way for people to come together and heal," she said.

Labriola said the event has special meaning for her because her mom is a cancer survivor, and in 2011 her husband was diagnosed with cancer.

"It's very nice to see people come together, support each other, and I'm really thrilled to be part of it," she said.

Last year, proceeds from the festival paid the expenses of Dragon Boat Charleston cancer survivors at races throughout the country, paid for nutrition and yoga workshops, endurance paddles, a six-day Spring Camp, an eight-week outreach session for cancer survivors, the Carolina Celebration Cup; a race just for cancer survivors hosted by Dragon Boar Charleston, and year round paddling.

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