The Penticton Lakeside Resort and its general manager, David Prystay, have made it their mission to make sure Penticton’s Survivorship dragon boat racing team is looked after.
The Survivorship crew is made up entirely of breast cancer survivors, who have made it their mission not just to compete at a high level in dragon boat racing, but to raise awareness about breast cancer and offer hope.
“All the ladies on our team have done the journey. Dragon boating is something that brings us all together and we are happy to share that life goes on,” said Sharon Hickey, the club’s president. “You have to let people know that there is life beyond cancer … there is life and life continues.”
But doing the community outreach and supplying the club does cost money. Hickey said it meant a lot, when Prystay and the Lakeside wanted to come on board as their major sponsor a few years ago, he just said to bring him a shopping list.
Hickey said at the time they needed new life vests, paddles, cushions for the boats and uniforms.
“Our uniforms were getting kind of old and ratty. It was time for new stuff but all of that stuff costs money,” said Hickey. “He just said go out and get the first six things.
“And it was without question. It really meant a lot to us as a team.”
Prystay said he admired Survivorship’s level of activity and their dedication to living past their cancer.
“They seemed to be really proactive in the community to raise awareness about breast cancer. They are really progressive in promoting themselves as a way to increase awareness and make it more visible in the community,” said Prystay. “It’s an awesome group. We’re very proud to be part of their team.“
The design on Survivorship’s jerseys is based on a painting done by the daughter of a team member.
“We gave him the original, just to show our appreciation for what he has done for us,” said Hickey.
Prystay’s support goes beyond just straight financial. He’s also allowed Survivorship to take over the Barking Parrot bar in the hotel to stage a comedy fundraiser for last three years.
Hickey said that’s been important, both to raise their profile in the community but also as a fundraiser to support both the club as well as a portion of the funds they dedicated to Penticton Regional Hospital.
“Years ago, we turned this bar into a non-smoking bar before it was law. I know the B.C. Cancer Society was really pleased with us,” said Prystay. “We just did it because we thought it would be a good thing to do. People said we would lose money and go broke if you don’t allow smokers in your bar. It never happened. Sales just increased every day after that.”
Prystay has also given some space in the lobby over to the club.
“It is amazing having the ability to put the boat in his lobby and just have people come up and say ‘what a nice display’ or ‘wow, I never knew the boat was quite that big,’” said Hickey. “Doing that helps both us and dragon boating.”
Hickey said many people aren’t aware of all that Prystay does and how supportive he is in the community.
“I am always telling people about how much he has supported us. He is kind of in the background with all these things he does,” said Hickey. “We are always proud to make it known that he is our major sponsor.”
For his part, Prystay said he is proud to be associated with the club.
“I am pretty proud of them when we see them race,” said Prystay. “This group deserves support, it’s a good cause.”