Making a splash for St. Jude

At the 2018 Duncan-Williams St. Jude Dragon Boat Races, a team of former patients paddled their way to raising funds for the hospital that saved their lives.

 

Volunteers will do just about anything to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, but few fundraising events can match the visual splash of the annual Duncan-Williams St. Jude Dragon Boat Races on the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn. (where St. Jude is located).

The sight of those sleek, colorful, 42-foot-long dragon boats with teams of 20 paddlers each (which also consists of one drummer and one steerer) has become a Mother’s Day tradition in Memphis.

Former St. Jude patients gathering at the tent before the start of the race

Former St. Jude patients gathering at the tent before the start of the race

This year’s event attracted 50 boats and 1,000 paddlers, who collectively raised $209,000 — setting event records for participation and proceeds. More than $400,000 has been raised over the past three years.

 
A team of former St. Jude patients formed a team at Duncan-Williams St. Jude Dragon Boat Races

A team of former St. Jude patients formed a team at the 2018 Duncan-Williams St. Jude Dragon Boat Races.

Joining the collection of river-faring rowers was a team of St. Jude survivors, captained by Joel Alsup, who lost his right arm to cancer in 1988 at age 7, and today is a supervisor in Creative Media Services for ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude.

Former St. Jude patient Joel Alsup with nurse Lisa Walters

Former St. Jude patient Joel Alsup with nurse Lisa Walters, MSN, RN, APRN, FNP-BC

The annual races, part of a day of activities that includes music, food trucks and children’s activities, are for novices and veterans alike.

No experience is necessary, and anyone can register to join an existing team or form a new one. Team entry fees generally include coaching and equipment.

 

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When you donate monthly, your gift means families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

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