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Published: Sunday, 8/1/2004

Dragon boaters team up to rule Maumee River

BY MARY STEGMEIR
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Competitors in the Great Maumee River Dragon Boat Festival ready their crafts at International Park. Yesterday's event -- sponsored by Partners in Education of Toledo, along with the Toledo Rowing Foundation and area Rotary clubs -- was held to raise funds, recruit volunteers, and promote community involvement in schools. More than two dozen teams, including one from Canada, competed in the races. This was the third year for the event. Competitors in the Great Maumee River Dragon Boat Festival ready their crafts at International Park. Yesterday's event -- sponsored by Partners in Education of Toledo, along with the Toledo Rowing Foundation and area Rotary clubs -- was held to raise funds, recruit volunteers, and promote community involvement in schools. More than two dozen teams, including one from Canada, competed in the races. This was the third year for the event.
LONG / BLADE Enlarge

Hoots and hollers erupted from the "Green Milers" as the crew team churned the water to finish first in one of their 500-meter races down the Maumee River yesterday afternoon.

Back on shore, the team's efforts were rewarded with applause from the spectators who gathered at International Park for the third annual Great Maumee River Dragon Boat Festival sponsored by Toledo's Partners In Education.

Soon the clapping stopped as onlookers craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the next three 40-foot Hong Kong-style canoes preparing to paddle down the brownish-green river.

But for the victorious "Milers," sponsored by Cricket Communications, the celebration had only just begun.

Once the team reached land, the paddlers exchanged high-fives and gathered in a team huddle.

"1 2 3 ... Cricket!" they shouted in unison.

Sue Fravor and Teresa Clark were still beaming ear to ear 10 minutes after their team's victorious voyage.

"It's pumped," Mrs. Fravor said of the atmosphere aboard the "Milers" boat.

"Especially when we are winning," added Ms. Clark.

"But it was fun this morning when we were losing too," countered Mrs. Fravor.

Each team competes in three races throughout the day. And, according Lori Pierce, most teams get better each time they hit the water.

As her team's "drummer," Ms. Pierce sat in the front of the canoe and pounded on a round black drum. With each beat of the drum, Ms. Pierce's teammates drove their paddles into the water, triggering a brownish-green foam.

Ms. Pierce said her team took advantage of the practice sessions held by the Toledo Rowing Club last week to learn the ins and outs of paddling the 22-person craft.

"The first time, we were a little bit uncoordinated," she said. "But we all got going together and really became a team."

Sister Joselyn Weeman also enjoyed learning to paddle with her "Holy Rowers" teammates, even though her efforts left her exhausted. "About halfway through the race, I think I'm about to die," she said.

But for Sister Joselyn, a teacher at Queen of Apostles School in Toledo, the physical exertion was worthwhile. She said she was participating in the event to say thank you to her school's "Partner In Education" - The Andersons of Maumee.

The festival is expected to bring in about $30,000 for Partners In Education, an organization that pairs the city's public and diocese schools with area businesses and organizations to improve the educational opportunities for local students.

Contact Mary Stegmeir at: mstegmeir@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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