On Saturday, June 22nd, Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) held its popular annual Dragon Boat Festival for the 11th time, drawing an estimated 4000 spectators.
I joined the other members of my BNI group, the Referral Leaders, to compete in the races, which were held at The Cove at Concord Park from 8am to 4pm. We called our team The River Dragons, and together we raised more than $3000 for KARM through the event. We joined 61 other teams (a record for the event!) to raise an astonishing $251,000, far exceeding KARM’s goal of $200,000.
I love supporting KARM, which serves Knoxville by working against homelessness, abuse, and addiction. They run a variety of ministries, including job training and placement programs, the Crossroads Welcome Center, Serenity Shelter and the New Life Inn. In addition to the Dragon Boat Festival, KARM holds a number of other fundraising events and runs thrift stores to raise money for its ministries.
More than 120 KARM volunteers came out on the day, helping the teams of 20 rowers, a drummer, and a steerer as they tried to get into and not fall back out of the 46-foot-long dragon boats. The top three teams received gold, silver, and bronze medals, and industry division winners also received awards.
The top fundraising teams were also recognized, and KARM gave out special prizes for team spirit, best-dressed drummer, team name, team tent, and team t-shirt. We didn't win, but we came pretty close (well, sort of) - by the end of the day, we were 18th out of 62, and in our first race, our time was 1:14, putting us in 14th place.
This year’s Festival included lots of activities for kids and families, including bouncy houses, games and food vendors. I brought two of my sons, and we had a great time goofing off and watching the races.
A lot of teams brought games, activities and refreshments to pass the time in their tents between races – our team captain Mike Davis provided a personalized cornhole set from his State Farm agency, and I'm proud to announce that my friend Cori Johnson and I dominated with an impressive 13-0 winning streak.
I had a great time, and I can't wait to race again next year. Go Steelers!