Like many fundraising events that happen year after year, organizers of the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival said there's always a challenge in getting people to return.
But, considering the more than $1.5 million raised by dragon boat participants has stayed in Sudbury to benefit six different non-profit organizations since its inception, people see the value of that, making it easier for them to pick up the paddle each year and compete for the fastest time, said Steve Lee, Dragon Boat Festival co-chair.
“Every year, we reach out to teams that have participated in the past, and that has proven successful,” he said. “We have to keep working with the people and with the media to generate interest.”
Funds have helped Health Science's North Foundation, the MS Society, the Alzheimer's Society, the Sudbury Food Bank, the Independent Living Resource Centre and Meals on Wheels.
This year, the Northern Water Sports Centre is once again the designated pledge beneficiary of the festival. This is the second year of a two-year commitment to the Northern Water Sports Centre.
Site preparation for the new centre was completed in the fall of 2013. Construction of the main building will begin in April, and is estimated to take about 10 months, said Thomas Merritt, board chair, Northern Water Sports Centre.
To date, the capital campaign has raised more than $450,000. The goal is $500,000.
“The community really got behind Northern Water Sports last year,” Merritt said. “We want to do it again, but we want to do it a little bigger this time. It's always a challenge to get people back out a second time, but it's a good cause, and I think the community will again get behind us.”
Organizers of the Dragon Boat Festival hope to raise $75,000 this year, said Lee. More than $70,000 was raised at last year's event.
“Since we raised $70,000 last year, we think $75,000 is achievable,” Lee said. “We had almost 60 teams paddling last year, and we're looking for between 65-70 teams this year.”
The 15th annual Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival hits Ramsey Lake on July 12. However, there are a few key dates participants should keep in mind. On April 25, there will be a kickoff party at the Radisson Hotel, where teams can get together and mingle, said Lee. Practices will begin in May.
For more information, visit sudburydragonboats.org.