Teams of racers will take to the lake Saturday for charity event

The dragon boat races take place Saturday at the Lake Charles Civic Center seawall. (Special to the American Press)

Nearly 30 teams will compete in the seventh annual Dragon Boat Races, set for Saturday at the Lake Charles Civic Center seawall.

The opening ceremony starts 8:30 a.m., with the race beginning at 9 a.m. Teams of 20 paddle a 41-foot boat, accompanied by a team drummer. They are placed into groups of three based on how well they perform in the two qualifying races.

The event, hosted by the Christus St. Patrick Hospital Foundation, is a fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network. Last year’s event brought in more than $137,000 and helped pay for pediatric surgical and treatment equipment, along with school-based physical activity programs for the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana.

Kay Barnett, executive director of development for the Christus St. Patrick Hospital Foundation, said this year’s proceeds will benefit the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She said the money will pay for specialized equipment to help babies born prematurely or with special needs. One piece of equipment, the “giraffe bed,” provides a warmer and incubator for the baby, while allowing medical staff to continue providing uninterrupted care.

Barnett said the teams have already raised roughly $8,000 through a crowdfunding effort online.

The dragon boat races take place Saturday at the Lake Charles Civic Center seawall. (Rick Hickman / American Press)

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From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Kohl’s Kids Club activity tent will offer family-friendly entertainment and provide tips on nutrition and how to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Local food and drink vendors, music and karaoke will also be at the races.

For more on the race or to volunteer, call 430-5353.

Online: www.stpatrickfoundation.org.