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New Team Vital Life Makes Big Splash at Canadian Cancer Society September Dragon Boat Challenge

It certainly has been anything but boring around here for the last few months.  We've committed to changing the company name from O∙R∙G Canada to Vital Life.  You'll find the rationale for that elsewhere on the website, we did an Impact Day at Siloam Mission and we entered the September Dragon Boat Challenge as a new team, know as Team Vital Life.


Stacey Bulat, our Athletic Therapist thought it would be a great idea for us to enter a team and raise funds to support the Canadian Cancer Society.  Those that have known us for many years will recall that we (ORGOC and O∙R∙G Canada) have done this before.  For about 5 consecutive years we participated in the summer Dragon Boat festival and had a lot of fun.  This time it was a small boat, requiring only a team of 12 to paddle.  Well, after some heavy recruiting we came up with the all-star team of 12.  Unfortunately as we all know, 12 is never enough, you always need backup, spares, bench strength, whatever.
 
Our first practice was on August 13 and Rob (John Robertson) graciously agreed to be our steersperson.  The remainder of the crew had Liz Forbes as our drummer and beat keeper, Stacey Bulat and Kristine Slater in row 1, Joel Gervais and Adam Malanchuk in Row 2, Ryan Nickel and Lisa Farmer in Row 3, Jolen Galaugher and  Alana Brownlee in row 4 and Katelyn Maruca and myself in back.  Given that for most of the team it was a first time activity, and we were missing 2 paddlers it was a tad awkward but not too bad.  We probably should've booked more practices was the general consensus during post practice debriefing.
 
Our next practice was not until September 3, some 3 weeks later and only 2 days before our first race.  Unfortunately 4th row paddler Brownlee was ill and unable to make practice but the rest of the team was there.  To fill the seat, Peter, Jolen's husband, graciously agreed to fill in.  Prophetically the question was asked, "this thing won't tip, will it?".  To reassure the non-swimmer, Peter, was reassured that it was almost impossible to do that.
 
Well after some good instruction on our technique, our start and our pace, it was noted that Rob was still struggling with steering.  Two other boats were practicing that night as well and so a mock race was set up.  After what seemed like a great start and as we came to the dock/finish line we began to list to the left.  Rob was heard to utter those reassuring words "oh sh?t" and next thing we knew we were all in the water.  Peter was a little shaken up but no worse for wear later on the dock, 2 or 3 of were under the boat but managed our way out.  We righted the boat, got back in and paddled to the dock.
 
Team bonding extraordinaire, I must say.  Yes, we needed more practice and NO, Rob was not going to be steering in the race.  With Alana out due to vertigo (good thing she wasn't in the boat) Rob was REQUIRED to paddle and we would employ an experienced steersman from the Manitoba paddling club come race day.
 
Rob was quite perturbed, guilty and apologetic initially but during the races his infamy grew.  Legend was created as all paddlers in the beer garden those 2 days spoke of the team that dumped the boat.  Rob quite proudly took responsibility and it is amazing how his legend grew through the 2 day competition.
 
Most importantly Team Vital Life was consistently in the Top 5 in fundraising, finishing 3rd with more that $4500 raised.  This total beat some big law firms that had 2 teams in the competition so despite the trauma of a swim in the Red River, as owner of this company I'm extremely proud of the important fundraising effort put forth by Team Vital Life.  
Further, the Champions Race, is a race for the top fundraising teams to compete for the Champions Trophy.  In that race we blew the competition away in our heat, beating out 3 other teams, including our own lawyers, Taylor McCaffrey.
 
Despite of change of steersperson for the final, we got Pierre, we went into the starting position with great confidence and huge drive.  We wanted a great start and boy did we ever get it.  Pierre gave us some excellent coaching and motivation as Team Vital Life lifted the front end out of the water and paddled like an Anaconda was chasing us and not only blew away the competition, we finished in time to look back and see if there was anyone else in the race.  It wasn't even close.
 
We proudly took home the Champions Race Trophy, the Bronze medal in fundraising and many great memories, and some things from our dip in the Red River that we're still not sure about.  A great time was had by all and I want to thank Team Vital Life for their efforts and a great time.  Special thanks to Stacey for organizing it and Lisa and Rob for hosting the post race festivities.  
Now Team Vital Life, next year on to bigger and better things.  Keep the Boat Upright!!!!!  

Don Smith
President
Vital Life

Dragon Boat Race Group Photo   Dragon Boat Race High 5s

Dragon Boat Race Paddling