HOMER, Ill. (WCIA) — It’s a club people don’t want to be in, but it’s one that the women who are in it are happy that they found.
“I had the opportunity to join a group that was so fun and with sisters that I knew had lived what I had lived and to just have that support,” said Mariam Garrett, board president of the Prairie Dragon Paddlers.
The Paddlers are a support group specifically for breast cancer survivors. On Sunday, they held their eighth annual Family and Friends Fundraising Festival at Homer Lake. It was all for a cause close to their hearts.
“It’s great seeing family, seeing the community come out, see them support their family members that have maybe gone through breast cancer,” said Steve Tenhouse, CEO of the Kirby Meical Group.
It’s a way for them to show up for one another and this event serves as a pleasant reminder of how the community shows up for them.
“It’s a fun way to develop friendships, get some really good exercise and just come together and support each other because some of us are currently going through cancer,” Garrett said. “Not everybody has it totally behind them.”
As the inspiring team shows off what they do best, they invite their neighbors out to join in on the fun.
“There’s a community out here to support them and for them to be involved with,” Tenhouse said. “And we want them to come out and take advantage of that.”
Tenhouse said he went on the boat with them last year, and that inspired him to dive in even further. He’s now the title sponsor for the event.
“It really was an experience last year when I was out on the boat,” he said. “I got to go out and row, see how much work it is. So, you really appreciate what they’re doing, and you really get to see all that firsthand.”
This joyful gathering of community and support raises awareness and inspires hope not only for the team, but for the ones still fighting.
“People who are living it and hear about what we’re all about and see the sisterhood,” Garrett said. “They just are driven towards it,” said Garrett.
This event will be back next year, but Kirby Medical Center will kick start spreading awareness next month with the Paint Piatt Pink campaign.