The 4th Annual Dragon Boat Festival, which took place last Sunday at Lake Tobesofkee, featured 12 teams representing various local organizations that competed against each other for first place honors.
With close to 100 spectators, each team was paired with another team and provided with a boat for the race.
Each team consisted of 15 members, making up seven pairs of rowers, and one captain.
Once lined up, the pairs of teams paddled from start to finish – a distance of about 100 yards marked off by buoys in the lake. The teams participated in two heats in the bracket and a finals round.
The Dragon Boat Festival is put on each year by the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, headed by the CEO of the Macon branch, Dianna Glymph.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is a mentoring organization that provides adult mentors for youth who are at risk of juvenile delinquency or academic failure.
It offers programs based around pairing each student in the program with a mentor that acts as a stable adult figure who the child can view as a friend.
“We reach out to kids who just need that extra adult in their lives,” Glymph said. “Every child needs a caring adult in their life.”
The Dragon Boat festival is a fundraiser for the Big Brother Big Sister program, using all proceeds toward expanding the mentoring program.
“We saw something similar advertised on TV, and it looked like a lot of fun,” Glymph said. “We were looking for a unique event to bring to Macon. Not just another run or just another golf tournament. We wanted something that would get people out, and into the fresh air, and just something that would get people motivated to get outside during the spring and enjoy our resource at Lake Tobesofkee.”
Although the boat festival is fun at face value, this event offers another sort of value for the competitors, as well.
“What we found is that it has turned into a tremendous
team-building opportunity and exercise for members in our corporations. It’s really a team-building thing, as well as just helping the community,” said Glymph.
Competing against corporations such as Geico and Wells Fargo was Mercer University’s Mercer Asia team, lead by club president Mei Lin.
After hearing about the festival, members of the Mercer Asia club searched for the event online.
With little hesitation, they collected a set of rowers and signed up for the race. It was not Mercer Asia’s first time in a Dragon Boat race, as they have attended a similar event in Atlanta twice before.
At the end of the first heat, Mercer Asia placed third among the teams.
Mercer Asia’s future club leaders Raymond Ko and David Xiao have a strong desire to participate in future Dragon Boat Festivals, saying, “There’s no question about it. It’s our new tradition, and we’re sticking to it.”