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Hope Chest of Buffalo hosts third annual Dragon Boat Festival

Many corporate challenge races in Canada take place on the water – in dragon boats.

Hope Chest of Buffalo decided to take that tack with its largest fundraiser in 2012, and today will host its third annual Dragon Boat Festival at a new location: along Lake LaSalle on the University at Buffalo North Campus in Amherst.

Forty teams are ready to run 300-meter sprints for supremacy, and a chance to raise money to support Hope Chest programs for breast cancer survivors across the region.

“At this point, we’ll be looking for spectators to come and have a good time at the festival,” said Anne Hist, Hope Chest health and fitness director.

Eight dragon boats – 44-foot-long canoes – will be used for the races. Each holds 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steer person, Hist said. Team tents, as well as beer and food tents, will line the lake and raffles will be held during the races, which will run from 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m.

Race proceeds benefit Hope Chest programs that include free weekly fitness classes for breast cancer survivors:

• Year-round cardio classes at 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the Jewish Community Center, 2640 North Forest Road, Amherst; and 6 p.m. Wednesdays in the Bella Moglie building, 3297 Walden Ave., Depew.

• Cardio classes, from September through May, at 6 p.m. Thursdays at the Southtowns YMCA, 1620 Southwestern Blvd., West Seneca; and 9:30 a.m. Saturdays at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, 2253 Main St.

• Dragon boat practice paddles from 5:45 to 7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays from June through August at RCR Marina, 284 Fuhrmann Blvd.

“Our main goal and mission is to make it free for survivors, all of the classes, all of the paddling practices. That is why we do our festival,” said Hist, 59, a 19-year breast cancer survivor who lives in the Town of Tonawanda.

For more information on the race and organization, visit

– Scott Scanlon