• Lacrosse Dragon Boat Racer

    Celebrating Cancer Survivors on the Mississippi River

Lacrosse Dragon Boat Races- on the water

LA CROSSE, Wis. Registration is now open for the second annual Big Blue Dragon Boat Race hosted by the Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare. The race will take place on July 5, 2014, on the Mississippi River along La Crosse’s Riverside Park.

Lacrosse Dragon Boat RacerThe Dragon Boat Race is relatively new to the La Crosse community and is an exciting way to support and celebrate breast cancer survivors while promoting health and teamwork. The money from the event goes to the Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare's Center for Breast Care, and the early-bird team registration fee is $700 if paid by April 15 and $800 afterwards.

Lacrosse Dragon Boat BannerNot only does this event sponsor sport and exercise, but also spectacle, as the act of the race itself brings a diverse set of spectators from all over the area. Last year the race brought in over 2,500 people to watch the race unfold. According to Teri Wildt, associate director of External Affairs at Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare, spectators and participants consisted of fitness enthusiasts, Rotarians, Franciscan Sisters, colleagues and breast cancer survivors. This year's race coordinators expect 60 teams to race head-to-head on the Mississippi River, with five separate divisions: corporate, mixed, men’s, breast cancer survivors and cancer survivors.

Last year the goal was to have 12-15 teams participate, but that goal was well surpassed with 30 teams of breast cancer survivor supporters. “The brilliance of this is coming together as a family, as a department, a work unit, as a corporate team,” said Dragon Boat Co-chair and Director of Health Promotion at Mayo Lori Freit-Hammes. “Anyone that can pull together and wants to build team comradery, this is a wonderful opportunity to do that.”

Lacrosse Dragon Boat RacersThis race is a great example of the L.I.F.T. program at Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare. L.I.F.T. stands for “Living Impact Franciscan Teamwork” and is a unique program at the La Crosse Mayo Clinic. It is an initiative that captures those values to proactively address health, hunger and sustainability issues in the communities that Mayo serves.

The race not only provides an opportunity for a fun and exciting event for the La Crosse community, it also informs and educates the citizens about breast cancer and the care that Mayo Clinic offers. Mayo Clinic Heath System “provides comprehensive cancer prevention and screening service, along with the latest technology, and treatment planning to care for the whole person – body, mind and spirit,” said race Co-chair and breast cancer survivor Terri Pedace.

Journalists: Sound bites from this week's news conference are available in the downloads.