Ships ahoy

Hundreds of people gathered Friday night at the CJ Bio America Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash at Badger Lake in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park for a night of music and fun.

At least 25 teams will take part in the races today, which are a primary part of the 19th Dragon Boat Bash sponsored by CJ Bio America.

One of those teams is Silver Bullet.

“We came out to have a lot of fun,” team captain Peggy Cloud, of Fort Dodge, said.

Tristen Holst, 7, of Fort Dodge, had fun riding on the shoulders of her father, Bryan Holst. She cheered and hoisted the team’s sign as its name was called during Friday night’s opening ceremonies.

Silver Bullet is known for starting the beer slide, which doesn’t actually include beer. When it rained three years ago, the team tore down the Miller Light banners and began sliding down them.

“We all started sliding down them,” Cloud said. “We’re being asked to bring it back.”

Although the overall event is fun, it also has a serious side.

Teams and those who attend will engage in fundraising projects to help pay for cancer treatment at Trinity Regional Medical Center. Trinity held a silent auction at Friday’s event to raise money for the cancer center too.

Four of the teams in the dragon boat races are comprised entirely of cancer survivors.

One of those teams is the Fighting Angels Abreast.

“We’re excited,” said Cheryl Lychwick, Fighting Angels co-captain. “We’re hoping there’s no rain.”

Lychwick said that dragon boat racing is good for breast cancer survivors.

“The motion of paddling helps patients after surgery,” she said. “It encourages exercise after treatment.”

The Fighting Angels don’t just compete around Fort Dodge; the team plans take part in an international dragon boat race in Sarasota, Florida, in October. That race happens in a different country every year.

Back in Fort Dodge, every year sees both local and out-of-state teams participate in the Badger Lake event. This year there are teams from not only Fort Dodge and Webster County, but also Cedar Rapids and Ames, as well as Rochester and St. Paul in Minnesota.

The races start today at 8:30 a.m. The Noon Lions Club is having a pancake breakfast and there is a Breast Cancer Survivor Ceremony at 2 p.m.