By Alicia Venter
Paddle for the Cure NYC, the nonprofit dragon boat team of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, is kicking off their season on May 13 at the World’s Fair Marina in Flushing.
In advance celebration of World Oceans Day, anyone over age 15 is welcome to partake in paddling on a dragon boat alongside breast cancer survivors and supporters.
Meet-up is at 11 a.m., and it will be at the White Dome area of the Marina. The rowing will be for one hour, beginning at 11:45 a.m. Admission is free.
Dragon boating is a water sport similar to rowing, but instead of rowers sitting in single file in boats and using oars with their backs to the direction they are traveling, dragon boaters sit in two rows of 10 and face forward using paddles.
The sport promotes a positive and healthy lifestyle, which is part of the reason Paddle for the Cure NYC founder and breast cancer survivor Leah Salmorin encourages everyone to join.
“When they are hit with cancer, they are stuck and they cannot do their activities,” Salmorin shared in a phone interview. “I really want to encourage them to be part of our group, because I do believe that water is life.”
Dragon boating season runs through October 15 if weather permits. In the offseason, the organization holds other events, including bowling and fashion shows, including being part of New York Fashion Week.
“It is a group of survivors and supporters, and there is a sense of camaraderie,” shared Salmorin. “Learning from their stories — it is a camaraderie and you make new friends.”
Paddle for the Cure NYC takes their talent beyond the five boroughs, traveling to places such as Pittsburgh to compete. They also are part of numerous festivals and community events, such as the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival held in Flushing in August.
This year, Salmorin is hoping to qualify for Nationals.
The organization’s mission is to create a sisterhood of breast cancer survivors, provide hope and support to cancer survivors and their families and to unite the community for charitable purposes through dragon boat racing.
“We are making an impact now,” shared. “It is so great. If you do it from the heart, people will work with you.”
Those between the ages of 15-18 must be accompanied by an adult.