DragonBoat2DragonBoat Beaufort members get back as much as they give.

By Joy Craig

The first time I set foot in Beaufort was when I took my place on those famous Yellow Footprints over on Parris Island. Suffice to say that for the next thirteen weeks I looked forward to putting Beaufort far in the rear view mirror. My Drill Instructors called it, “The land that God forgot” and boy did I agree.

     When I returned ten years later as a Drill Instructor myself I was finally able to take a good look around. My family rented a little trailer on the marsh with a million dollar view. A mature oak tree loomed overhead, its branches laden with Spanish moss while our lawn edged a wide marsh with ribbons of Spartina grass cut by webs of tidal creeks in flux with the tides. When the water was at its lowest the smell of the exposed mud was something I grew to love like a good, stinky cheese. Our favorite part of watching the tides was at the peak of the high tide, when the river crested and took a glassy, respiratory pause between its inhale and exhale.

   These little gems, unique to the Lowcountry, are what hook people to stick around. It’s a safe bet that the natural beauty surrounding Beaufort County had a part in why you’re here now. Whether you’re a native who can’t imagine living anywhere else or you came here on a day trip and never left, Beaufort is home.

     Another of Beaufort County’s many virtues is the generosity of her residents. We are a giving bunch, donating time, goods and money to the many worthwhile local organizations. But few organizations combine both the desire to give back to our community and the local beauty quite like DragonBoat Beaufort. In addition to the catharsis of giving to charity, DBB takes its donors out on the water for a “boat ride” if you will. DBB is a cancer patient, survivor, and supporter charity that has a twofold mission:

  • To provide local cancer survivors (and supporters) the opportunity to regain physical and psychological wellness through the camaraderie and competition of dragonboat paddling.
  • To conduct an outreach mission, achieved through one-to-one grants to local cancer patients with needs they are unable to afford or for which they lack coverage.

     DragonBoat Beaufort gives support for cancer patients in treatment and remission, including support for caregivers. We discretely cover needs ranging from driving patients to medical appointments, to covering deductibles, oxygen tanks, groceries, prosthetics, childcare or emotional support. You never know what will be needed when cancer rears its ugly head.

   DragonBoat Beaufort isn’t a fire and forget charity. We ask for more than a simple donation. With your donation comes membership! And with membership comes benefits! By joining DBB not only will 100% of your (tax deductible) donation stay entirely within Beaufort County, you will join a do-gooder group like no other. As a member you decide your involvement level. You can join our paddling team either recreationally or competitively (which includes traveling). You can volunteer time conservatively throughout the year or become an outreach volunteer frequently supporting your neighbors in need. Outreach volunteers scratch that “give back to the community” itch we all have. With DBB, you give and you get.

     If you’d like to enjoy the water without the price tag of owning your own boat, our paddling team practices three times a week at the Port Royal Landing Marina between March and October. Considering your individual physical ability, you decide your participation level – up to three times a week. Paddling is an upper body workout not difficult unless you make it so. The added benefit is taking in the gorgeous landscape only seen from the water.

     DBB’s Outreach Program is committed to helping those in the Beaufort County who have, or are recovering from cancer. Even with proper insurance, a diagnosis of cancer can be financially devastating, and many in our group know this first hand. In 2016 our Outreach Team provided nearly $23,000 in individualized, discreet grants to cancer patients in need locally, never asking for payback. Our outreach program helps patients that live, work, or receive treatment in Beaufort County. Our all-volunteer force aims to be a good neighbor by assisting with the needs that insurance does not cover.

     We raise these funds through membership and our annual Dragonboat Festival held at the Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort. This year’s event is scheduled for June 24th so mark your calendars now and start forming your team. DBB’s race day is one of Beaufort’s premiere events that isn’t just a unique photo opportunity, it’s an absolute blast that also benefits local business. Teams converge on Beaufort from throughout the region for a day of community, competition and compassion.

     Join today by visiting www.dragonboatbeaufort.org or find out more about our club by attending our annual social being held at the Port Royal Sound Foundations Maritime Center between 6:00 and 8:00 pm, Thursday, 19 January. This evening of wine and hors d’oeuvres is for our members and anyone interested in joining the organization. Costs are offset by $10 at the door. Please RSVP at Haaskd@aol.com or kayak@islc.net.

     Like so many others, Beaufort haunted me long after I left and I couldn’t think of a better home to plant my flag after retirement from the military. The family I discovered in DBB made my transition from the Corps smooth by providing a sense of community that was elusive over the years of constant movement. If you’re looking for a way to get involved, join us. There is no substitute for community and earning good karma.