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'It's for a great cause': Dragon boat festival supports hospice expansion

18th annual Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival runs on Ramsey Lake on July 15

Ramsey Lake will be alive with sweating paddlers, hollering drummers and intricately decorated watercraft July 15 during the 18th annual Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival.

Organizer Chris Gavard said 41 teams of 20 paddlers have registered to take part in the annual event, which gets underway at 9:30 a.m. at the former canoe club in Bell Park, and runs until 5 p.m.

He said he's participating in a team representing a local radio station himself. 

“The challenge of being in a boat, working with people, the camaraderie in the park — it's a fun day,” Gavard said. “I hope everybody comes out, has a good time, and that the weather's nice.”

Proceeds from the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival always go to support a capital campaign by a local registered charity.

This year and again in 2018, the proceeds from the dragon boat festival go to the capital campaign supporting the expansion of Maison McCulloch Hospice. Gavard said he hopes the festival brings in at least $70,000 this year.

“It's for a great cause,” he said. “We just felt it was something we could get behind.”

Sudbury Hospice Foundation executive director Yolanda Thibeault said her organization is “obviously very excited” about the partnership with the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival.

She and husband, Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault, will take part in a team representing Maison McCulloch Hospice.

The hospice foundation is trying to raise $5.1 million to expand the local hospice by 16,000 square feet, from its current 10 beds to 20.

The McCulloch family jumpstarted the campaign in the winter by donating the first $1 million, which resulted in the hospice rebranding itself.

While there's already several fundraisers for the hospice, including the Desjardins Live Butterfly Release on Aug. 20, Thibeault said the dragon boat festival's contribution is definitely a help, and also raises awareness of the organization.

“If we can push the pledges, 100 per cent of the proceeds from pledging comes to us,” she said. “We need to get that awareness out there. We're praying for good weather.”

For more information about the Sudbury Dragon Boat Festival, visit the website.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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