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Pink Dragon Ladies, Tampa Bay

Submitted by Liz O’Connell

The Pink Dragon Ladies® Celebrate 20 Years of Support Through Sport!

Tampa Bay’s Pink Dragon Ladies® are marking their 20th anniversary in 2024! As the first cancer survivor team in Florida, they also celebrate the birth of BCP and ACP dragon boat racing in the state. The Pinks have watched the ripple effect as they share what they’ve learned and see new teams sprout up and then inspire other new teams.

The team has good reason to celebrate – according to the IBCPC, Florida has the largest number of cancer survivor dragon boat teams in the country, making the sport accessible to a wide range of women. In addition, Florida teams have been well represented on Team USA, and it is the only state to have hosted an IBCPC International Dragon Boat Festival!

Brought together in 2004 by Moffitt Cancer Center’s breast cancer support office, the Pinks competed in their first race at the 2005 Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Festival. Since then, they have provided “support through sport” for more than 350 women in all phases of their cancer journeys.

Incorporated as Team Survivor Tampa Bay Inc, the Pink Dragon Ladies® is a 501(c)(3) organization run entirely by volunteers who are dedicated to renewing the spirit and strength of women living with cancer.

The Pinks have competed in events in Canada, Italy, and New Zealand as well as seven U.S. states and Puerto Rico. In 2014, the Pinks and Miami’s Save Our Sisters co-hosted the quadrennial IBCPC International Dragon Boat Festival, which welcomed over 100 breast cancer survivor teams to Sarasota for a week of festivities and competition.

In addition to racing, the Pinks provide opportunities for recreational paddling, fitness classes, and other athletic activities. Combined with fundraising events, group travel to race festivals, and social occasions, membership on the team forges strong bonds and offers emotional support.

The Pinks proudly volunteer their time to other community agencies such as Toys for Tots, Faces of Courage, WEDU public broadcasting, the Gasparilla Music Festival, and Feeding Tampa Bay, and they raise awareness about breast cancer and life after breast cancer through speaking engagements, information booths, and televised news spots.