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Teams race for the win, race for the fun in Dragon Boat Challenge
Multiple organizations to compete to raise money for Hall County's Special Olympics program

Gainesville Hall County Dragon Boat Challenge

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, June 10

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

Cost: Free for spectators

More info:

Sometimes it’s about winning. Sometimes it’s about becoming a team.

“It’s the hardest fun (they’ll) ever have,” event organizer Jim O’Dell said about teams competing in the Gainesville, Hall County Dragon Boat Challenge. “They become a team. There’s so much that relates to business and becoming a team that you do in a dragon boat.”

Corporate, government and community organizations alike will have the opportunity to experience just that June 10 at Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

Hosted by Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club since 2014, the event brings together teams of 20 people to have fun, build teamwork and raise funds for the Hall County Special Olympics program.

“The inspiration came from myself and a gentleman named David Haack,” O’Dell said. “We already had our Hall County Special Olympic kayak team already training at the venue, so we decided that (the dragon boat challenge) would be a great way to help support them and to get the community involved in dragon boat racing.”

O’Dell is also a coach at Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club and the junior national team coach for Dragon Boat USA.

O’Dell said organizations involved this year include Wrigley, The Longstreet Clinic, J.A. Walters Family YMCA and World Language Academy, as well as many others, including a few teams from Tennessee.

“It’s really neat to see the local businesses starting to ramp it up,” O’Dell said.

He said one day he hopes the race resembles that of the Peachtree City Dragon Boat Race and International Festival.

“They actually have their county and city governmental organizations racing against each other,” he said. “It’d be really neat to see Gainesville City Fire Department versus Hall County Fire Services.”

The event will be free for spectators, who O’Dell said are a “huge part” of the event.

“They get to root on their companies and their fellow employees,” he said. “And they get to share in the afterglow, if you would, of having raised a whole bunch of money for a whole bunch of special athletes.”

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