How We Started and Grew Hope Afloat


How We
Started and Grew
Hope Afloat


Our founders were Philadelphia-area breast cancer survivors inspired by the 2001 International Dragon Boat Festival World Championships held on the Schuylkill River in October of that year. In less than two years, they had purchased a boat and trailer, incorporated as a non-profit tax-exempt corporation, secured dock space and hired a coach.

In 2003, Hope Afloat officially joined the Eastern Region Dragon Boat Association (ERDBA), which fully supports breast cancer dragon boat racing. Since then, we have been racing competitively at events around the US, Canada and even Australia.

The original 12 members have since grown to over 50 as of 2016. We are your mothers, sisters, wives and neighbors. We come from diverse social and economic backgrounds and we include lawyers, teachers, nurses, and retirees. Most of us grew up before Title IX and had few opportunities to participate in organized sports before joining our team. But today, Hope Afloat is among the top teams in the Eastern Division and a recognized leader in the Breast Cancer Survivor Community.

“We refuse to lose. We’ve already had the worst day of our life.”
about hope afloat

How to Join Hope Afloat


MEET US AT THE RIVER! Hope Afloat practices Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 6:30pm on Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park. (click here for directions).

  • What to wear? Comfortable clothing and shoes (old sneakers or no slip sport sandals) that you don’t mind getting wet – it’s a water sport!
  • What to bring? A bottle of water, a butt pad (inexpensive garden kneeling pad), and a smile!
  • What to expect? You will be given some basic safety and paddling instructions. Then you will get into the boat where you will experience the Schuylkill River and Fairmount Park from a very special perspective in the company of wonderful women!

JOIN US! Once you try it we know you will want to become a permanent paddler on this awesome team. As a member you can attend all practices, meetings, and special events. You will have a vote on policy and race decisions for the team. Also you will have the opportunity to attend festivals and compete in races, around the corner, across the country and all over the world!

First year dues are $300, which include a paddle and a uniform shirt. Returning member dues are $250. It is our mission to give this amazing experience to all breast cancer survivors whatever their financial situation. There are funds available to assist in reducing the cost of dues, these requests are handled by the Membership chair.

Let us know when you want to give it a try by sending us an email or calling us at 215-574-1820.

This is an adventure of a lifetime!

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By donating to Hope Afloat, you're helping spread the knowledge that surviving from Breast Cancer gives a new lease on life!