Dragon Boat Festival raises $202,268.41 for cancer treatment at Peterborough Regional Health Center

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On October 4, 2022, volunteers from the Survivors Abreast Dragon Boat Team and the Organizing Committee of the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival presented the Peterborough Regional Health Center Foundation with a check for $202,268.41. Among the volunteers are PRHC Foundation President and CEO Lesley Heighway and Kawartha Credit Union President and CEO Norah McCarthy (back row, left), Festival Platinum Sponsor, Festival Chair and Survivors Abreast member Michelle Thornton, and top fundraiser Rhonda Barnet (kneeling, left). (Photo courtesy of Peterborough’s Dragon Boat Festival)

The Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival surpassed this year’s fundraising goal of $180,000 for cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment at the Peterborough Regional Health Center (PRHC).

Volunteers from the Survivors Abreast Dragon Boat Team and the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival Organizing Committee presented the PRHC Foundation with a check for US$202,268.41 at an event Tuesday (October 4) at T-Wharf on Little Lake, site of the annual festival.

The 2022 fundraising goal of $180,000 reflected festival organizers’ determination to “make 180” after the pandemic forced the festival to cancel its in-person event for each of the past two years. In comparison, last year’s festival — a virtual race consisting of activities that participants could safely complete at home — raised $91,853.20. In the first year of the pandemic, the first virtual race brought in $55,449.41.

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“I am so proud of our organizing committee and team, especially this year as we have faced so many challenges,” said Michelle Thornton, Festival Chair and member of Survivors Abreast. “We set ourselves an ambitious goal and asked attendees, sponsors, donors and volunteers to ‘get on board’ with us again…we rekindled a long dormant sense of community and as you can see, our passion and dedication delivered an amazing Result.”

The $202,268.41 raised by the festival will go towards equipment and technology such as new CT scanners, a second MRI machine and RIVA technology for robotic chemotherapy preparation – the government does not provide funds for hospitals to purchase new equipment and technology Disposal.

According to PRHC Foundation President and CEO Lesley Heighway, the number of patients from Peterborough and the surrounding region who rely on PRHC for cancer treatment continues to increase each year.

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“Supporting the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival and our community is vital,” Heightway said. “Proceeds from the 2022 Festival will enable PRHC to invest in new cutting-edge equipment and technology to serve more cancer patients, support earlier cancer diagnosis and provide safer, more effective treatments. That will help save lives.”

Since the festival was first established as Liberty Mutual’s “Day on the Water” in June 2001 and became the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival the following year, it has raised more than $3.9 million for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of Breast cancer collected in the Peterborough area. The Kawartha Credit Union has been the annual presenting sponsor of the festival since 2001.

“At Kawartha Credit Union, caring for others is one of our core values, and we are passionate about contributing to the well-being of the communities we serve,” said Norah McCarthy, President and CEO of Kawartha Credit Union. “As a platinum sponsor of the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival, we are able to provide financial support while participating in a fun event that unites Peterborough and our surrounding areas around a common goal to improve local healthcare resources.”

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Rhonda Barnet, who was this year’s top fundraiser with $7,306.06, was present at Tuesday’s event to announce the total for the fundraiser. While Barnet has been attending the festival for years, she was diagnosed with a rare form of breast cancer in 2019, which often goes undetected until fatal.

“Luckily, I was on a high-risk screening program and the equipment, funded in part by the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival, caught this cancer before it was too late,” Barnet said. “I’m a survivor in large part because the people in my community made sure that early diagnosis could save lives like mine.”

Planning for next year’s festival on Saturday June 10th at Del Crary Park will take place over the next few months. Anyone interested in volunteering for the festival can email Michelle Thornton at [email protected]

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