Jessica Mader, a breast cancer survivor and patient of Akron plastic surgeon Douglas Wagner, was the inspiration behind Ohio’s first all breast cancer survivor dragon boat team.
In 2006, while recuperating from breast cancer surgery at her summer home on a lake in Nova Scotia, 76 year old Jessica woke up one morning and found a paddle and note on her front porch. The note instructed her to show up at the dock where she would meet up with members of the “Bosom Buddies,” a Canadian all breast cancer survivor dragon boat team. From that first excursion, she was hooked on dragon boating. “I turned from a convalescing patient into a summer athlete….and all in a big hurry” said Jessica.
When Jessica returned to Akron to continue her cancer treatments, she so impressed Dr. Wagner with her physical fitness and positive mental attitude that he made the generous offer to buy a dragon boat.
Together they contacted hundreds of breast cancer survivors and invited them to “discover the dragon.” Jessica and her new team of 60 enthusiastic paddlers launched Rex, a 40-foot pink dragon boat on June 9, 2007 at Craftsmen Park in Portage Lakes. Life for these breast cancer survivors would never be the same.
The Dragon Dream Team now has two dragon boats as the number of members and interest continues to grow.