Here’s a chance for you to cheer on breast cancer survivors and have big fun in the process.
The Dragon Dream Team — Ohio’s first all-breast cancer survivor dragon boat team — is extending an invitation to paddlers “to team up and race 40-foot authentic dragon boats for fun, fitness and fundraising,” writes event spokeswoman Susan Balmert.
“No experience is necessary and all equipment is provided. Each team is comprised of 20 paddlers, a steersperson and a drummer. Registered teams will get a 90-minute practice paddling session on the water before the big race day. Lots of prizes will be awarded for competition on and off the water.”
The Portage Lakes Dragon Boat Festival, billed as a summer spectacle for the whole family, will get underway at 8:30 a.m. July 13 at Portage Lakes State Park in New Franklin, with a ceremonial “Awakening of the Dragons” followed by racing and entertainment throughout the day. “Once the racing begins, it’s nonstop action with dragon boats heading to the finish line every 12 minutes,” Balmert continued. “A noontime ‘Boatloads of Hope’ celebration ceremony, featuring eight dragon boats on the water at the same time, will give the public a chance to get in a dragon boat and paddle.”
Free admission for spectators. Dragon boat teams are still being accepted for a $1,200 entry fee. Registration forms and festival information are at www.portagelakesdrive.com or call Susan at 330-697-0605.
“All proceeds from the Portage Lakes Dragon Boat Festival will stay in the community and support the activities of the Dragon Dream Team, especially Boatloads of Hope, a breast cancer outreach program offering hope and encouragement to survivors, especially those dealing with the challenges of breast cancer treatment,” Balmert noted.
Hope is growing
Hats off to Graf Growers, which recently hosted the inaugural “Flower the Fight Ladies Night” to benefit the Susan G. Komen 3-Day team “Breast Man Walking,” led by Akron’s Kathy and Lee Giller.
“Everyone gathered to listen to Kathy Giller share how her family has been touched by breast cancer time and time again and gave an important piece of advice,” event spokeswoman Karlie Graf wrote.
“I encourage you to go home tonight and check your breasts,” Giller said. “Then go and check your husband’s.” Lee Giller, 56, who was diagnosed in 2005, is battling Stage IV breast cancer.
“We are honored to support Kathy and Lee and their efforts to fight for a breast cancer cure,” Graf Growers’ owner Lisa Graf said. “We thank everyone for helping us continue to grow hope for a cure and raise over $2,100 for team Breast Man Walking through shopping, raffle ticket purchases, and the event’s attendance.”
Happy belated 72nd wedding anniversary to Uniontown’s Carl and Olive (Hockenberry) Rayman.
The couple, both in their 90s, were born and raised in Akron. Mr. Rayman — who retired from B.F. Goodrich with 42 years of service — gave his bride quite the scare when he was rushed into emergency heart surgery on their anniversary, June 28. He’s resting comfortably.
His wife’s special passion since she was a teenager has been singing.
The Raymans have four children: Carol Houser of Canal Fulton, John of Hartville, and Bill and Bob, both of Uniontown; seven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
Victim Assistance Program and Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center — two local, very meaningful nonprofit groups — are enlisting the community “to help brighten a client’s holiday in December through what is being called Gifts of Hope,” spokeswoman Shelley Koch announced.
“Easing the pain and suffering of crime victims and their families by providing food and gifts to families is a small gesture that can make a large impact …
“Agency staff will refer clients for participation in the Gifts of Hope program. Clients will be matched with individuals, families, businesses or groups who would like to provide a holiday meal and gifts for families who otherwise may face a very grim holiday. This is a great family activity and terrific team building exercise for businesses or groups. … When a match is made, the family information and wish lists will be sent to the sponsor. This is a confidential program; sponsors will not be able to meet the family or deliver items to the families.”
“Victim Assistance Program has secured gift certificates for each family to purchase the meat of their choice,” Koch continued. “We are asking sponsors to provide the remainder of the holiday meal and gifts for the family. Sponsors will deliver the food and gifts to the office at 150 Furnace St., Akron, OH 44304 on scheduled days and times. The deliveries will be made to the families on Friday, Dec. 20, by law enforcement.”
For more information, please visit www.victimassistanceprogram.org or to download a sponsor form. Shelley Koch can be reached at 330-376-0040.
Send a card to Gabe
Interested in putting a smile on the face of a recently turned 4-year-old who has cancer and is too sick to celebrate in the traditional ways of a child his age?
Please send Gabe Rooker a funny kids’ birthday card to P.O. Box 403, Amherst, OH 44001.
Keep on trucking
Big thanks to Akron’s Two Men and a Truck franchise and its owner, Victoria Thompson, for the role it played in the recent “Walk for Wishes,” which raised more than $50,000 for the Make A Wish organization to help make the dreams of local children come true. The event drew more than 300 folks.
Two Men and a Truck had three volunteers moving various items from the Walk for Wishes office in Independence to the walk site in Akron and back, and provided transportation to the volunteer station along the walk trail.
Teddy bears donated
Major kudos to Fran Sharp for donating her late friend’s collection of 89 very special teddy bears and other stuffed animals to places where they will do a world of good.
The collection formerly belonged to Juanita Kean of Jackson Township, who died in March; she was 81 and a retired Ohio Bell supervisor with 30 years of service. The toys were distributed as follows to help children in distress: 18 to the Jackson Township Fire Department; 20, Summit County Juvenile Court; 35, Summit County Children Services, and 16, Akron Pregnancy Center.
Also, fabric, thread and binding that belonged to the late crafter went to the Giving Doll ministry, which makes soft-sculpture dolls for sick children, those hurting from any major loss and those with a parent stationed in harm’s way with the military.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org.