Langley paddlers living with breast cancer will have fun with fashion this Saturday (Oct. 20) in Burnaby.
Members of the Abreast in a Boat dragon boat racing teams are trading in their rowing gear for more fashionable attire the upcoming fundraiser at the Nygard store.
Abreast in a Boat is a group of women living with breast cancer who participate in dragon boat racing to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.
The Fort Langley Canoe Club's Abreast in a Boat crew, Abreast with FORT-itude, is going to have a large presence at the event.
Ten of the 25-member FORT-itude crew are involved in the fashion show in one way or another, says team captain Juanita Peglar.
Five crew members are modeling while another five have been part of the committee that organized the event.
Still others have bought tickets at $20 each, which includes refreshments and light appetizers, and are bringing friends and family to the fashion show.
All clothing modeled is being supplied by the Nygard store.
The fundraiser also includes entertainment by singer Lisa Fennell, the aforementioned fashion show, and a silent auction.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets to the fashion show are $20 and available at Champagne Taste (1101 Royal Ave.) or the Big Bend Nygard store (5751 Marine Way.)
Proceeds will go to the Abreast in A Boat organization.
"It is the biggest event this year to raise funds for the organization," Peglar said. "Our organization has worked long and hard to get many items for a silent auction to help raise funds to keep our crews 'afloat.'"
All of the FORT-itude paddlers, ranging in age from 35 to 74, have had breast cancer.
Many have had a long survival with up to 20 years since diagnosed, while others are still on meds for recurring disease or metatases, Peglar explained.
"We lost two of our paddlers this year, ages 52 and 59, to the disease," she said.
This season FORT-itude had seven new paddlers, three of whom are in their 30s. This brought the number of crew members in their 30s to four.
With 20 paddlers in the boat, this meant one-third of FORT-itude's crew members have been recently diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.
Having seven novices changes the dynamics in the boat, noted Peglar: "We need to be aware that these ladies require lots of TLC and more technique work to bring them along slowly and to be sure that they are not injured."
The team entered four regattas this season, the last being in Nanaimo in July.
The ladies' hard work paid off as they won gold in the Breast Cancer Challenge race at that event, which drew 11 breast cancer teams from around Vancouver Island and the lower mainland.
It is the first time in the 10-year history of the Nanaimo Regatta that an Abreast in a Boat crew won the gold and the Challenge Cup.
FORT-itude's season started in mid March, meeting on the water for practices Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings at the FLCC dock.
Registration continues until December for next season's crews. The FORT-itude crew has started dry land training, and is trying to work out twice per week. Each paddler will also train on her own three times per week.
Peglar said Abreast in a Boat members participate in dragon boat racing to make a difference - that is to raise breast cancer awareness and to encourage those living with breast cancer to live full and active lives.
"Our goal is to send a message of hope to people living with this disease and to those who support them," Peglar said.
At the fashion show, special deals will be offered for people making purchases the night of the fashion show. Guests will also be able to buy keys to unlock a mannequin that's dressed from head to toe in Nygard attire - with the owner of the lucky key winning the complete outfit.
The first Abreast in a Boat team formed more than a decade ago in response to a research project that was exploring whether exercise could reduce the effects of lymphedema (a painful inflammation that can occur if lymph nodes are removed during cancer treatment). Since that time, it has grown to include 180 members and crews in Deas, Richmond, Vancouver, Langley and Rocky Point.
Although it was originally envisioned that women would participate in Abreast in a Boat dragon boat racing for a couple of years and then move on, many have stuck with it because of the camaraderie and support they get from fellow team members. Abreast in a Boat teams take part in about three regattas every years and often participate in an international dragon boat regatta held for breast cancer survivors every three or four years.
- Theresa McManus is a reporter with the Royal City Record