Issue: 2016-12-07, PHOTO: by Karin Stephens
Paddlers Abreast Celebration
It is winter in the Yukon, why would anyone even be thinking of paddling?
If you are a breast cancer survivor, and would like an experience of a lifetime, in company of other breast cancer survivors, plus the chance to prove to yourself that you can live a full and active life, read on.
Paddlers Abreast is looking for eight breast cancer survivors to paddle their beautiful voyageur canoe from Whitehorse to Dawson in the 2017 Yukon River Quest.
This will be the 17th year that Paddlers Abreast participates in this race. We started in 2001, when a group of breast cancer survivors approached the Yukon Quest, who at that time oversaw the running of the river race, too. They asked the organizers to allow them to paddle a voyageur canoe in the canoe and kayak race from Whitehorse to Dawson. They agreed!
Paddlers Abreast became the first of that class to do the race. Since then, the class has grown to up to 15 voyageurs in some years. We are very proud of the fact that, all those years ago, we started that class.
The reason we did it was to have the Yukon version of what breast cancer survivors do in cities down south: paddle dragon boats. At the time, we had no dragon boats here, and even if we could get one, there was no local community of dragon boaters to paddle with.
Paddling a voyageur canoe has proven to be a good substitute.
If you are, or know of, a breast cancer survivor who has finished treatment and are back on the road to recovery and would like to give this a try, or just want more info, please contact us.
We start training in January. The training includes 12 one-hour sessions of paddling while sitting on the side of the Canada Games Centre pool. Cardio and strength training also happens during these months. When the ice goes off Schwatka Lake, usually by the end of April, we hit the open water, paddling for three hours twice per week, and for longer periods on the weekend.
The race starts June 28, and ends in Dawson on July 1.
Those of us who have paddled before keep on doing it, knowing how important it is that we be there for others who get this disease. We feel that this race is an excellent way to take control of your life after feeling that you are totally not in control.
In the past, we have not always been able to find eight breast cancer survivors to fill the boat. If that is the case, we open the spots in the boat to supporters of people with breast cancer. If you are one of those, we invite you to also apply, with the provision that priority is given to survivors.
We fundraise in the community every year, to cover the team and recreational paddling expenses, so that participating in Paddlers Abreast is not an impediment to anyone. We do not receive government funding. Any donations above $20 is eligible for a charitable donation receipt. When we have a surplus, we donate money to Karen’s Fund, which gives money to help defray expenses for people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. We truly appreciate all the support the community, both individuals and businesses, have shown us in the past.
In closing, Paddlers Abreast welcomes anyone to become part of our group. Even if you are not into paddling, there are many ways you can be helpful to our group. We need support people in Carmacks, we need drivers to help carry the canoe, we need fundraisers, communications people and board members.
Our AGM is Thursday, January 19, from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Whitehorse Public Library. This meeting is open to the public, not just survivors.
The application deadline for the 2017 team is Dec. 15, with the team chosen by Dec. 31. The application form can be found on our website under the “About Us” tab.
For more information, please contact Terry at 334-5489. Find us online at www.PaddlersAbreast.org.