WATCH ABOVE: The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada has a boat in the race annually as part of a way to raise money to make dreams come true for children in a life and death fight. As Doug Vaessen reports, one cancer survivor’s wish came true.
CALGARY – It was a wonderful day at North Glenmore Park for this year’s Dragon Boat Race and Festival.
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It’s a weekend of sport, culture and community spirit and thanks to some special people using penguin power to leave others in their wake, one cancer survivor’s wish came true.
“The reason I chose penguins (as hats for their boat theme) is because I am an absolute penguins fan. I know everything about them,” JoJo said.
The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada has a boat in the race annually as part of a way to raise money to make dreams come true for children in a life and death fight.
This year’s boat is called ‘Meg Energy Wishmakers’.
Sharon Boutin’s daughter JoJo fought really hard to be able to be at the boat race Sunday, to see her wish come true.
“Her childhood cancer was a solid mass in her abdomen 40 weeks of chemo, six weeks of radiation and she went through it like a trooper. A true inspiration to not just myself but others that have followed her journey,” Boutin said.
The Children’s Wish Foundation has been at this for years, 22 hearts beating as one – or that’s the theory. Over a thousand paddlers chase a dream in the annual event.
“Whether that’s breast cancer or whether that’s JoJo’s wish or cancer in general, we have some people paddling for a seniors residence in Chinatown trying to raise funds for them. Everyone paddles for their own reasons,” said Joe Connelly, co-chair of Calgary’s Dragon Boat Race.
“I love how they do this for children, because children that go through cancer is a tough experience and it’s hard, you’ve got to stay positive a lot. So for me with this, it’s absolutely amazing. I love it,” said JoJo.
“What’s interesting is, we practice pretty hard for the last two months and all paying attention to our steers person and our drummer. We all know what we are supposed to do, and strangely all that practice goes out the window as soon as the horn blows. It’s a bit of a free for all,” said Keith Miller from ‘Meg Energy Wishmakers’ boat.
At the end, the Wishmakers were beaten by a dragon nose but it’s still a great victory.
“It kicks cancer’s butt and that’s what we do when we get in there and paddle hard,” Boutin said.
In the wake of a great race, this October JoJo will get her wish of a scuba diving trip in Cancun with a special friend that helped her through a hard time.
“It’s amazing there, the people are friendly, it’s very nice and it doesn’t snow,” JoJo said.
Finding snow and penguins at the south pole can come later.
The penguin hats worn by each team member were auctioned off after the race.
So far, the Children’s Wish Foundation raised over a quarter of a million dollars on their dragon boat and every penny goes to granting wishes.