Making A Difference: Dragon Boat Festival

By KBJR News 1

August 7, 2014 Updated Aug 7, 2014 at 10:27 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- Teams are already practicing for the Dragon Boat Festival set to launch on August 22nd.

The Rotary Clubs fundraiser gives back to charities throughout the Northland.

"We are a team of all breast cancer survivors and our team has been with the Dragon Boats ever since they started here in Duluth," said Captain of the Sister Survivorship boat, Kathryn Plewa.

Plewa was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and has been part of the Sister Survivorship Dragon Boat team for the last three years.

Since the festival started 13 years ago, the Sisters have raised about $100,000.

"Our biggest point, as a group, is not necessarily to win the race, our biggest point is how much money can we raise to help future sisters," said Plewa.

Another organization helping those suffering from the disease is the Essentia Health Foundation.

The Dragon Boat Festival is the foundation's biggest fund raiser and has gotten about $688,000 for their cancer programs since they came on board 11 years ago.

"We have raised money to purchase a digital mammography machine in Superior. It funds a lot of our free programs for survivors such as a gentle yoga class, dietary instruction and materials, free support groups," said Charity Rupp, Director of annual giving and special events for the foundation.

Rupp said the foundation is hoping to use the money raised this year to make patients' care experience more high-tech.

"We are going to pilot some e–learning tools for our patients. That includes iPhone Apps and things within the clinic so patients can track and monitor their own care," said Rupp.

Which is something the sisterhood keeps dear to their hearts.

"Pink is to remind us a mammogram is a must. White is for the courageous fight that ended for some of us," said Nancy Lowney, reciting a poem dedicated to the Sisters. She is also part of the Sister Survivorship boat.

Over the last 12 years Rotary members estimate they have given up to one point four million dollars back to the Twin Ports community.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.