Cause Breathes Fire into Dragon Boat Festival

  • Nov 18, 2008

Dragon boat racing originated as an ancient Chinese ritual intended to win the good graces of river dragons. Today, it’s a widely growing sport, reminiscent of crew – and at least one group of cancer survivors has adopted it as a way to win back their well-being. This past summer, the group, called Dragon Boat Charleston, organized Charleston’s first-ever Dragon Boat Festival.

“The festival was used as a fundraiser for the Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center Survivorship/Outreach Services,” says Grandee Ray, who is a dragon-boater for a non-cancer sister team called Charleston Surge.

Dragon Boat promotions

Marketing efforts included a number of festival-related promotional items, including T-shirts for each team and for volunteers, performance shirts, window decals and tattoos. In addition, promotional items increased awareness of a film project, Awaken the Dragon (, that is documenting the Dragon Boat Charleston team.

“Liz Oakley is in the process of editing the film for a documentary supported and endorsed by Women Make Movies out of New York City,” Ray says. An Awaken the Dragon tent sold imprinted merchandise and “tattooed” festival attendees with the film logo.

“The festival was well received,” Ray says, “with a record-breaking 51 corporate teams – the best the festival organizers had ever experienced for a first-time festival. A record $72,000 was raised for the cause.”

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