Revelstokian Ginger Shoji competed alongside over 20 other breast cancer survivors as the Kamloops Spirit Warriors in early July as part of the IBCPC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival in Florence, Italy. (Supplied)

Revelstoke paddler Ginger Shoji competes in international breast cancer dragon boat festival

Revelstoke paddler and co-founder of the Lake Revelstoke Dragon Boat Society Ginger Shoji returned from Florence, Italy last month after competing in the International Breast Cancer Paddler’s Commission Participatory Dragon Boat Festival.

Travelling to Florence as a member of the Kamloops Spirit Warriors, Shoji was one of over 4,000 breast cancer survivors to take part in this year’s festival from July 6-8.

According to Shoji, taking part in the event creates a sense of community amongst participants from around the globe.

“It’s almost like you know everyone and everyone knows you – that’s how emotional it gets,” Shoji explains of the experience. “You can’t even speak the same language, but you’re giving each other hugs and you’re happy to meet each other and exchanging pins from your teams. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Over the course of the weekend, 121 teams from 18 countries raced on the Arno River through Florence, competing in five lane races with counterparts from various countries the world over.

2018 marked the first year the event included teams from every continent.

Shoji made the trip with over 20 other B.C. breast cancer survivors, including former Revelstoke resident and co-founder of the Revelstoke Dragon Boat Society Joan Eley, as well as supporters of the team.

RELATED: Ginger Shoji to paddle in Florence after walking the distance of Canada

On the second day of the festival, Shoji was able to race alongside her sister in a supporters race, in which the team finished third.

“They couldn’t believe how hard we work,” laughs Shoji, referring to the reaction among team supporters who took part in the race.

Overall, the Spirit Warriors finished in the middle of the pack, racing in four races over two competition days and the additional supporters race.

Over the course of the two days, the team finished fourth in three races and third in the other.

Dragon boat racing was first used as a medically suggested exercise for breast cancer survivors in 1996 when Dr. Don McKenzie of Vancouver theorized that the upper body exercise would be beneficial and would prevent lymphedema.

Shoji, who has been involved in dragon boat racing for 15 years, says the sport has created an outlet for both physical activity and deeper fulfillment among the survivors.

“Not only is it good exercise, but you also meet people that are in the same boat as you. They’re going through exactly the same thing,” says Shoji. “Mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally, we’re all there for each other.”

On a personal level, Shoji says dragon boating has created a chance to block out the rest of the world and focus only on keeping time.

“It’s magic on the water. You feel so free and alive.” says Shoji. “It’s magical for me, that’s the only thing I can say.”


@NathanKunz1
nathan.kunz@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Ginger Shoji, along with former Revelstokian Joan Eley (Third Row), walk in a parade during the IBCPC Participatory Dragon Boat Festival in Florence, Italy. (Supplied)

Just Posted

Revelstoke City Council approves replacement of $160,000 snow removal machine

It is one of three scheduled to be replaced over the next five years

Revelstoke could further delay byelection to save funds

It’s been roughly eight months since Steven Cross left city council

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce celebrates 125 years

The organization has outlasted 16 Canadian prime ministers

Netflix star Francesca Farago seen hanging in the Okanagan

Farago got her big break as a reality TV star in Netflix’s ‘Too Hot to Handle’ in 2020

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Peachland resident finds severed bear paw on driveway

Tracie Gordon thought it was a Halloween prank, but it turned out to be a real bear paw

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Most Read