The 2022 Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash ended with a photo finish — and a tie.
In the finals of Division A, the Motley Crew, of Racine, Wisconsin; The NEW Cooperative Dragon Masters, of Fort Dodge; and the Cedar River Gang of Eastern Iowa, were neck-and-neck-and-neck as the teams paddled across Badger Lake.
In the end, The Motley Crew and the Dragon Masters glided across the finish line together, with a time of 97.4 seconds, or 1.623 minutes. The Cedar River Gang wasn’t far behind with a finishing time of 98.1 seconds, or 1.635 minutes.
“If anybody wasn’t out there at the end of the day to see the last race, they missed probably one of the best races I’ve been part of in 25 years,” event co-chair Barb Michaels said.
Though the excitement was at the end of the day, the main event was the afternoon’s breast cancer survivor ceremony. The Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash celebrates and honors local women who have survived or are still fighting breast cancer. A silent auction raised upwards of $5,000 for the Cancer Center at UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center to cover uninsured needs of patients, according to event co-chair Linda Donner.
The event got its roots many years ago when Donner and Michaels, members of the Daybreak Rotary Club, started a clean-up event down the Des Moines River. After a few years of that, the river got too low to race down, and the club decided they were ready to pass the event on to another group. That’s what started the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Association, Michaels said.
“One of the other things we’ve done as an organization is helped start breast cancer teams around the Midwest,” Michaels said. “We started our own breast cancer team, which provides support to newly diagnosed women.”
Three teams of breast cancer survivors competed on Saturday — Fighting Angels Abreast, of Fort Dodge; Life is Bliss, of Ames; and KC Pink Warriors, of Kansas City.
“On the boat, nothing else exists, except for that moment,” Michaels said during the breast cancer survivor ceremony. “What a positive way to experience life, especially for a survivor.”
The survivors were all given pink carnations to toss in the lake in honor of those battling breast cancer.
In the boats, 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steerperson, work in unison to propel their vessels through the water.
“The key focus is teamwork, because if you don’t work together, you can’t make things happen,” Michaels said. “And that’s especially true in the boat.”
It takes dozens of volunteers to run the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash — which kicked off with a concert and fireworks on Friday night at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. The volunteers did everything from running concessions to loading the boats to timing the races to helping with parking, and more.
“We can’t thank our volunteers enough,” Michaels said. “We had a small but mighty army of volunteers.”
Motley Crew – 1.623 (in minutes)
NEW Cooperative Dragon Masters – 1.623
Cedar River Gang – 1.635
Interstates – 1.703
Silver Bullet – 1.848
Cargill Corn Rowers – 1.917
Team Eagle – 2.106
Dragoneirs – 2.451
Breast Cancer Survivors
KC Pink Warriors – 1.800
Life is Bliss – 1.974
Fighting Angels Abreast – 2.199