Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival in Eau Claire to benefit hospice

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- How do you tame a dragon? You can't do it without a paddle. At least, that's according to Mayo Clinic Health System. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is coming to Eau Claire on Saturday, August 8th, 2015 at Half Moon Beach. Proceeds will help families dealing with the loss of loved ones through hospice care.

Dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. The original dragon boat festival has roots in ancient China.

Each boat is propelled by a crew of 20 paddlers, a drummer and steer person (provided by the race for each boat). Races take place in heats on courses of 250 to 300 meters.

The festival celebrates the bravery of patients, the support of loved ones and the difference a hospice team can make – like it did for Michelle Markquart of Elk Mound and her family.

“Our family was fortunate enough to have hospice walk alongside us in the loss of two of our family members to cancer,” said Markquart. “We found great comfort in the skills that were provided by the hospice care workers and their knowledge and just how they were able to come alongside the family and answer questions for us and help us walk through this life transition.”

John Dickey is the Chief Administrative Officer of Mayo Clinic Health System's northwest region. He said the event will raise awareness of hospice care for people in the final stages of life. All of the proceeds will go towards bereavement services which will help families and the community following the loss of a loved one.

“What we want to do is have them die with dignity and with the support of family and hospice caregivers so they can die in a way that's dignified, rather than hooked up to medical devices and trying to prolong their life for times that may not be that rewarding for them,” said Dickey.

Community Development Director Anna Sizer said the proceeds will help Mayo Clinic Health System’s bereavement program that’s already in place.

“Our community needs a really strong bereavement program, something that serves the whole community, not just somebody who had a loved one pass through our hospice program,” said Sizer.

According to Mayo Clinic Health System, no one is ever refused hospice services due to inability to pay. Gifts from generous donors and fundraising events, such as the Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival, help them meet the needs of patients.

“There's historical significance between the dragon boats and the death of a loved one so it gives us a really good opportunity to tie together why hospice is so important and the need for more bereavement services in Eau Claire,” said Sizer.

Dickey said there are similarities between dragon boating and hospice care.

“Similar to the dragon boat races, a team of care givers and supportive people help the family and the patient in their last moments of life,” said Dickey.

He said the patient is at the center of the team and surrounded by the loving support of family and friends. Medical care is coordinated by a team including doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice aids, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement counselors. This team coordinates care that encompasses the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the patient, while continually responding to the patient and family as the illness progresses.

Sizer said they are still looking for volunteers and sponsors to get involved with the festival. For more information, contact even organizers at Anna Sizer at euhalfmoondragon@mayo.edu.

There is no charge to attend and spectators are encouraged to come and cheer on the teams. In addition to the dragon boat races, the festival will include music, activities and food.

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(NEWS RELEASE - MAYO CLINIC HEALTH SYSTEM)

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — A new invasive species is headed toward Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire. Forty feet long, with brightly colored scales, these dragons are sleek and swift.

There’s only one way to tame these dragons of the lake — with a paddle.

Mayo Clinic Health System is sponsoring its inaugural Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday, Aug. 8. The event will raise awareness of hospice care for people in the final stages of life, and funds raised will support bereavement services for their families and the community following the loss of a loved one.

“Just as teamwork is important in dragon boat racing, a team is critical for providing whole-person hospice care,” says John Dickey, chief administrative officer at Mayo Clinic Health System locations in northwest Wisconsin.

“Working together with patients and families, the hospice team includes doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, volunteers and bereavement counselors. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival will celebrate the bravery of our patients, the support of their loved ones and the dedication of the hospice team.”

Michelle Markquart of Elk Mound, whose mother-in-law and grandfather both used hospice services, says hospice offers care and comfort.

“Having the hospice team walk our family through this life transition was so helpful,” Markquart says. “My mother-in-law, in particular, was grateful to have trained caregivers help with her personal needs in her own home. It was comforting to her and to us.”

Dragon boat racing has its roots in ancient China and is a fast-growing water sport. Corporate and community teams are invited to participate in the Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival. Each boat is propelled by a crew of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersperson. Teams will race head to head on Half Moon Lake in Carson Park.

Space is limited. A maximum of 30 teams will race. Sponsorships are available and the only way to guarantee a boat. A limited number of community teams will be chosen through a lottery.

Online registration opens Sunday, March 1. For more information visit mayoclinichealthsystem.org/halfmoondragon.

The festival will include music, activities for kids and food. Volunteers also are needed for registration, dock crews, food service, timing, scoring and cleanup.

To volunteer, email euhalfmoondragon@mayo.edu. For information, call 715-464-5990.

For more information about hospice, go to mayoclinichealthsystem.org, or call 1-800-236-8408 (toll-free).
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Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in 70 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.



 
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