The WonderBroads formed in January, 2003 with forty five Founding Members. The team incorporated as a registered charity in 2004 and has continued to grow in spirit and strength since that time. The Wonderbroads is now one of fifty breast cancer teams across Canada and more than one hundred and fifty teams around the world. Dragon boating has become the fastest growing adult team sport in North America.
Breast cancer survivor dragon boat paddling began in 1996 at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Dr Don McKenzie, a professor in the department of Sports Medicine and an exercise physiologist, challenged the prevailing medical thinking that women treated for breast cancer should avoid rigorous upper body exercise for fear of developing lymphedema, a debilitating and chronic side effect of treatment.
He developed a program to determine the impact of exercise on breast cancer survivors, choosing dragon boat paddling as the epitome of strenuous, repetitive upper body exercise. He trained twenty-four breast cancer volunteers in a gym for three months, introduced them to dragon boats and taught the paddling techniques. At the end of the three month season on the water none of the volunteers had lymphedema.
During the program, the women found they were fitter, healthier and happier. They loved the camaraderie and support of their fellow paddlers and had regained control of their lives. When the study finished, they didn't want to stop. The team 'Abreast in a Boat' was formed and the team sport of breast cancer dragon boating was born. This is no surprise to the current forty seven active paddlers of the WonderBroad team. They have experienced the highs of trying something new, making life-long friendships, becoming more physically fit, developing new skills and being the first to cross the finish line.
Our membership is varied in both age and past experience. Membership age has ranged from 30 to 80 years. Some members have belonged to many different sport teams over their lives, others have never participated in sports and some are even conquering their fear of water. Everyone though has a desire to lead a full and active life following their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.