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Colombia 5th Anniversary

The Breast Cancer Survivors Dragon Boat Colombia Foundation celebrated its 5th anniversary on October 7th, 2023, under its motto: "Paddling for life, together, in the same direction" (¨Remando juntos por la vida, en la misma direccion¨).

This event celebrated the lives of the women who, over the past five years, have preserved and advanced the legacy of its founder and eternal captain, the late Catalina Palacio Livingston. It was also a tribute to her memory and to her bold vision: to make a home in the magical city of Cartagena de Indias for Colombia’s first and only dragon boat team to date.

This anniversary was the perfect stage to acknowledge the 50 breast cancer survivors from North and South America and from Europe who joined this cause. For 5 days, October 3-7, 2018, and in the presence of the esteemed Dr. Don Mackenzie, they witnessed an exhibition of the majestic sport of dragon boat paddling, representing a new opportunity for rehabilitation, psychosocial therapy, and community integration.

Today, if the dragon has made its home on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, it’s thanks to Catalina’s courageous vision. As if foreshadowing her time battling breast cancer, she meticulously attended to every detail, dreamed every dream, and designed every strategy. Like someone preparing to unveil a great mystery, she selected the Laguna San Lázaro to enchant and captivate a handful of accomplices. To this day, the Laguna San Lazaro is home to the boat that bears her name, CATALINA.

For this fifth anniversary celebration, the laguna was ¨pretty in pink¨, and hope shone brightly thanks to the vibrant support network of family members, organizations, and institutions that made the celebration possible.

The "Dragon Boat Colombia Museum" (or ¨Museo Dragon¨ for short) made its first appearance at the anniversary celebration, displaying newspaper records and significant images from its beginnings through the team's participation in festivals, including this year´s Pan-American Dragon Boat Championship in Panama, along with medals, team jerseys, and trophies over these five years. Visitors left messages of encouragement for each team member, urging them to keep paddling for their lives.

The celebration’s objectives were fulfilled: to bring a message of life to breast cancer patients and survivors, as well as to the public; to rally the community, represented by healthcare professionals, family members, allies, foundations, and other organizations that are part of the social support network in breast cancer management; to raise awareness and consciousness among the participants about continuous efforts focused on early prevention and detection of the disease; to witness and participate in a paddling practice alongside breast cancer survivors.

The most emotional moment was commemorated with the "Flower Ceremony," where the foundation, together with its current team, the Pink Pirates, paid tribute to all women, especially friends and companions who have ascended to eternity after facing breast cancer: Catalina Palacio Livingston, Michelle Sarmiento, Yaneth de la Rosa, Diana Patricia Ramos González, Gitzela Pedroza Vanegas, and Dianora Diago Severiche. It was a poignant and symbolic close to the festivities, reminding us that life is finite, but hope is infinite, as each attendee carried with them Catalina’s inspiring motto, "There's Life after Cancer."

In Cartagena de Indias, Dragon Boat Colombia welcomes all women and men bearing the scars of breast cancer, offering an opportunity to paddle in the same direction and reaffirming the commitment to Catalina’s legacy of padding for life.