DEXTER, Ore. — Most of these people are on the same boat, a dragon boat that is. They’ve never paddled one.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought,” said Chris Moses, a participant and veteran.
Despite the challenges, Moses and his team are enjoying themselves.
“It’s pretty fun. It’s a fun competition. I’ve never done anything like this before, lots of fierce competitors, but it’s a good time,” said Moses.
“We have 12 teams today. They’re all community based teams meaning 99 percent of the people who are out there today, have never paddled a dragon boat before,” said Erin Zynsett with Emerald City Dragon Boat Club.
Hundreds of people picked up paddles, put on life jackets, and paddled out onto Dexter Lake as part of the first annual Heroes 2 Oregon Dragon Boat Paddle Challenge all to help a cause.
“We’re raising money specifically today for adaptive recreation for veterans. We want to send a group of veterans down to San Diego to go to a camp where they learn different adaptive programs and then they bring those skills back to their community,” said Synsett.
Twelve teams paddled their dragon boats down the course Saturday. It was a race to the finish, but participants say it wasn’t winning that was most important to them.
“It’s a great feeling actually, especially because since we have a few disabled vets amputees on our team. It’s pretty cool and to come out here and to see them working just as hard as the rest of us, it’s a big thing. To be able to help that does a lot,” said Moses.
“It was just a good chance to get together and then know that we’re doing something worthwhile,” said Lydia Pomeroy-Hale, a racer.
“It’s nice to be able to support that and show our support and combine it with the fun event,” said George Langer, another racer.
“I appreciate it for sure and I can speak for the team by saying they appreciate it as well. People always say ‘Thank you for your service.’ Wets hardly know what to say when they hear it,” said Moses.
Organizations that sponsored the event included the City of Eugene Adaptive Recreation Program, Travel Lane County, Emerald City Dragon Boat Club, and Guarantee RV Super Centers.
The National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic will be from September 6-13 in San Diego.