A celebration of survival

It was time to celebrate strength and survival for those attending the eighth annual May Day Luncheon Wednesday afternoon at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites.

The Fighting Angels Abreast dragon boat team, their families, friends and supporters gathered the lunch, which is the team’s biggest fundraiser.

Primarily, the team is comprised of breast cancer survivors who meet monthly as a support group and spend the summer training and participating in dragon boat festivals.

“If it wasn’t for this event, the team would not exist,” said Linda Donner, co-chair of the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Association. “Your support turns ‘I can do it’ into ‘we can do it.'”

“The diagnosis of breast cancer is what brought these teammates together,” said Barb Michaels, co-chair. “They are a support group. They focus on living rather than on the disease.”

Wednesday’s event featured a lunch, raffle, silent auction, survivor story and fashion show with team members serving as models.

Julie Davis, a 13-year breast cancer survivor, shared a testimonial highlighting her cancer journey from diagnosis to survival.

“I realized my own mortality was facing me,” said Davis, “but I trusted in my faith to get me through. I survived and I am thankful. I am not a victim of breast cancer; I experienced cancer.”

Tom Donner was an avid dragon boater long before the Fighting Angels formed.

“Today is about sharing strength,” said Donner, who has fought his own cancer battle. “We can’t thank you all enough for sharing your strength with us.”

The luncheon concluded with a style show featuring clothing from Kohl’s and Younkers and formal wear from Bridal Visions by LD modeled by breast cancer survivors.

“They want people to know there is life after cancer and that you can be beautiful and feel good about yourself,” said Deb Johnson, one of the luncheon coordinators.

Funds from the lunch help the Fighting Angels Abreast promote breast cancer awareness, provide care bags to cancer patients at Trinity Regional Medical Center, participate in the local Relay for Life and breast cancer walks, and enter dragon boat races.