Dragon Boating gets In the Pink on the First Coast
By Kelsie Sandage
On Saturday morning September 21, 2013, the St. Johns River by the Jacksonville Landing will be flowing with dragons—dragon boats, at least. Jeri Millard, founder of In the Pink: a boutique for women living with cancer, has been putting her heart and soul into getting the first annual Fidelity Dragon Boat Festival ready to make its debut on the First Coast. Dragon boat paddling is a fun way to stay healthy along with the festival being a great family event, but for those with lymphedema, or swelling in a limb from a blockage in the lymphatic system, paddling provides exercise for cancer survivors while getting people together who are sharing the same experiences.
Jeri described seeing those who paddle with In the Pink as like, “watching them turn into butterflies—they become a brand new person when they are feeling better about themselves.” Her husband, Marty, is one of the coaches for In the Pink’s boats that she calls, “floating support groups.” The dragon boats have helped create a close-knit community for a group of people who really need the support to keep them moving forward on their journey.
In the Pink has groups of people who paddle boat year round, but, with Millard’s cooperation with Pan Am Dragon Boat Association and Charlene Shirk Productions, now the community can join in on the fun and raise funds to help In the Pink provide services such as, but not limited to, wigs, headshavings, post-surgical garments and emotional support for men, women and children fighting cancer. Almost fifty teams from around the area will compete in the races. In the Pink personally has three teams entered in the festival. Look out for their 73-year-old drummer at the front of one of their boats; Jeri promises he is quite the character. She says they have many nurses participating as well and that anyone in the community can sign up to become part of the experience. For more information about the Fidelity Dragon Boat Festival, please visit jacksonvilledragonboatfestival.com. For more information specifically about In the Pink’s involvement in the festival, please visit inthepinkdragonboats.com.