The Fighting Angels Abreast dragon boat racing team has something that very few of those competing this weekend in the Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park can claim to have.
A queen. Or to be more exact - a queen mum.
The honorific belongs to Wyn Ann Allen, a 22-year breast cancer survivor.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Wendy Stephan, of Fort Dodge, offers up her dragon boat team’s version of Wilson from the movie “Castaway” Friday evening during the opening ceremony of the annual Badger Lake Dragon Boat Bash in John F. Kennedy Memorial Park. Her team is called the Castaways.
How does one become a queen - or rather, a tiara wearing queen mum.
"It started five years ago on a trip to Canada,"Allen said. "Barb Michaels put a Burger King crown on me."
While that cardboard cap of status is long gone, she now sports a more proper crown with plenty of faux jewels and genuine simulated gold-plated filigree.
"I've upgraded," she said.
While Allen enjoys her role, and competing in the annual event which helps raise money for breast cancer research, she also believes she serves a serious purpose too.
"It's possible to survive breast cancer," she said.
Kevin Robel, of St. Joseph, Mo., and his fellow Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. co-workers Sarah and Lonnie Messbarger arrived early Friday for the opening ceremonies. They found good seats on the hill facing Badger Lake and the stage for the evening's entertainment.
Robel said he enjoyed being able to spend time with his coworkers outside of work. Also, he said, dragon boating is a great team-building experience.
But while Robel has some past paddling experience, the Messbargers, it turns out, do not. They did practice a few evenings, he said.
Linda Donner is co-chair of the nonprofit Badger Lake Dragon Boat Association, which is organizing the event. She said there are 14 local teams signed up this year and six from out of the area - an increase over last year on both counts.
"We're looking forward to a fantastic year," she said.
Wendy Stephan, a member of the Fort Dodge Housing Authority team, the Castaways, was selected to present the dragon with her team's offering during the opening ceremony.
They gave it a Wilson, a replica of the volleyball that became Tom Hanks' companion in the movie "Castaway."
Events kick off today at with a Noon Lions Club breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m. and racing throughout the day, beginning at 9 a.m., at Badger Lake.