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OPINION Bill Walton: Determination

Janet and Johanne with Survivors trophy (photo by Lynne)
Warriors of Hope

Bear with me as I tell you about another Warriors of Hope dragon boat success story.

We have only one more festival planned for this season and I hope to bring good news of that in late August. On July 15 we competed in Sudbury at their excellent day of racing at Bell Park on Ramsay Lake – this year fundraising for their Hospice. There were 41 teams racing and after the first race seeding we (The Warriors) placed 13th overall.

That was quite a respectable showing considering we are a breast cancer survivor team and even more so when four of us in the boat are over 70 years old. That we were from North Bay was not lost on the announcer when we gathered on the podium to accept the Survivors trophy – she was a North Bay native and seemed rather pleased with us.

It is true that we Warriors train almost year-around and some of the teams in the festival only practice a few times before the big day, but that is only one of our secret weapons. Strength is a word in our motto but I think what pushed us this last weekend was Determination. And our coach.

Breaking the two minute 30 second mark in a 500-metre race is darn good paddling for a Survivors team. So our hearts were bursting with a little pride (Heart is in our motto too) after we read the results of race #1. Then Coach Pat threw out the challenge: I know you can do better. 20 exhausted paddlers took a small gasp of much-needed air and agreed that maybe we could. All it takes she told us was a little more Determination and perhaps some better coordination of our stroke.

I’m probably the only one of the team who thought ‘oh my god!’ but then I am a newbie. And so for the next two races we did better than 2:29:00. Those ladies are a very determined group and that spirit of togetherness as a team fills the boat – felt by every individual. And perhaps shared after the race as the teams docked and exchanged cheers and congratulations with each other.

I suppose we all know that determination to succeed or exceed can bring better results. All we have to do is commit to the task at hand. Perhaps nothing is more important in the fight against any cancer after the treatments than the determination to win the battle or at least keep the foe at bay for as many years as possible.

For those who have had breast cancer you might want to look to the Warriors of Hope as an example of what can be accomplished after breast cancer (or any cancer). If you think you might feel uncomfortable in a dragon boat you can always become a non-paddling associate and join the team in strength training and other activities. And trust me on this: some of the Heart, Determination and Strength will rub off on you.

I wonder if we can hit 2:25:00?