The U.S. Marine Corps Single Marine Program (SMP) participated in the annual dragon boat race this year. If you don’t know what a dragon boat race is, you’re missing out. Dragon boat racing is a flat-water, paddling sport enjoyed by people of all ages all around the world. Originating in Southern China over 2000 years ago, dragon boat racing started gathering interest in the western world in the 1970s. Today, it is incredibly popular both as a recreational and highly competitive sport and is especially popular for community and corporate team building, charitable fundraising events, and for promoting awareness and support for cancer. The challenge in dragon boat racing lies more in synchronization with your fellow paddlers through the entire race than in the paddling technique, although both are important.
DragonBoat Beaufort is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to assisting cancer patients and survivors in and around Beaufort County, South Carolina. This organization holds an annual dragon boat competition to provide cancer survivors the opportunity to heal and regain physical and psychological strength and wellness through the camaraderie and competition of DragonBoat paddling and racing.
Over the past five years, the Single Marine Program (SMP) has participated in this event. This year, an anonymous retired Veteran sponsored an entry into the race, stipulating that it be a SMP team. So SMP gathered Marines, Sailors and the Foreign Military to complete their team of 23 members. With only one practice under their belt, the team raced in 3 races and won the fastest local team category, and placed 4th overall out of 24 teams. Other teams, consisting of semi-professional teams and clubs, were shocked when they found out that they had never raced before.
The SMP team raised over $300 the day of the event for cancer research. All members participated because they believe in the cause, and because some have been affected by cancer within their families.
SGT David Moncada from Marine Air Control Squadron 2 says he’s ready to participate next year. Each member felt they had discovered unit morale and a sense of cohesion. They also note they were humbled by the ability to raise money for cancer patients. Look out Beaufort: this dragon boat team is ready, willing, and looking forward to next year’s event.