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Friendly competition in Moncton raises money for local charities

Showcasing the very definition of friendly competition, 24 teams hit the water Saturday for the Greater Moncton Dragon Boat Festival.

While each and every team was vying for gold, it’s the entire community that will come out as the true winner.

“One of the unique things of the festival is 60 per cent of the money the teams raise goes to Lions Sick Children Fund and then they choose a charity for 40 per cent. The only thing we request is that it’s a local charity,” explained co-chair Norval McConnell.

Despite the below seasonal temperatures, rain and wind, the two-day event saw the biggest turnout yet -- in more ways than one.

“[Friday] we had the high school event, 34 teams, most we’ve ever had,” said McConnell, who noted they brought in $168,000 in donations that day.

“[Saturday] we have 24 community corporate breast cancer survivor teams, and they’re going to raise, we think, in and around the area of $60,000, so that’s going to put us around $230,000. That’s the best we’ve ever had.”

When the event was created back in 2006, it was a Lion’s Sick Children Fundraising event and it has since expanded to help even more organizations in the community.

“Alzheimer’s is one of our big causes that we support with Shannex and as you know, it’s not far from home,” said Christina Cormier, who was part of the Shannex Patrol Team.

“We have our residents and our family members and some of them are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so we’re always happy to support and do anything we can to make sure that we can get everything we need for them.”

She says the chance to compete helped the entire team learn to be in sync, work together and communicate.

They are already planning for next year and what they can do to be a little better out on the water.

“It makes a difference in terms of residents and families knowing that our organization is willing to work hard at raising money for all associations throughout Canada that’s regarding Alzheimer’s,” she said.

With each team choosing their own charity to support, the money is spread out across the entire community.

“Any extra money is going to Moncton Head Start,” said John Wishart, with the Rotary Dragon Boaters.

“It’s been a charity that our club has supported for many years and we believe it does a lot of good work in the community, so we’ll brave the cold and the wind to raise some money for those kids.”

His team won their first race and he says the fact that dragon boating is focused around community building makes it a great fit for the rotary club.

“There’s a lot of coordination, you have to get in a rhythm, you have to count together, you have to try and not get each other too wet in the boat or tip the boat,” he said.

“But at the end, there’s a bit of an exhilaration that you’ve done it and you’ve had a good time.”

For many, it’s an event that draws them back in year after year.

McConnell says his entire family participates in it and he actually paddled in the very first festival in 2006.

“Our son is paddling this year, he paddled as a high school student and now he’s paddling as an Englobe employee. Our daughter paddled as a high school student, she also paddled as a Camp Centennial where she worked, she now organizes the McNaughton Teams and my wife’s a volunteer and I’m a volunteer so I think it’s a real family activity for our family,” he said.

Regardless of the type of weather each year, McConnell says the festival has raised $2 million in 15 years.

“I think that says what Maritimers are made of. We’re a resilient lot here and we get through a lot to make sure that those who don’t have as much get more,” he said.

Official fundraising numbers from this year are expected early next week. Top Stories


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