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Prisma Health’s annual Dragon Boat race goes virtual to raise funds to fight cancer

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

GREENVILLE, S.C.—The COVID-19 pandemic docked the boats, but not the community support for this year’s Prisma Health Dragon Boat Upstate Festival. The annual fundraiser, which switched to a virtual race this year, raised $240,000 for advanced cancer research, prevention and survivor programs for the Prisma Health Cancer Institute.

“Regardless of this terrible pandemic, every day our patients and caregivers continue to fight cancer,” said Larry Gluck, MD, medical director of the Cancer Institute. “It is this type of innovation and commitment to genuinely world-class care here in our backyard that is making a difference in patients. The generous and continued philanthropic support from our community helps make all this possible.”

Since it launched in 2006, Dragon Boat Upstate Festival has raised more than $3 million, helping propel the Prisma Health Cancer Institute forward in the areas of advanced cancer research and to provide patient prevention and survivorship programs in the Upstate. Programs include the Center for Cancer Prevention and Wellness,  Institute for Translational Oncology Research, McCrary Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit, South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation and  Center for Integrative Oncology & Survivorship (CIOS).

Dragon Boat Upstate Festival comprises 26 community teams with each having a goal to raise a minimum of $3,500 for the Prisma Health Cancer Institute. Traditionally, teams celebrate their fundraising work by racing in Dragon Boats at Portman Shoals Marina, but COVID-19 forced the virtual race this fall. 

“The resiliency and dedication these teams demonstrated is heartwarming and inspiring,” said Risé L. Wilson, executive director for the Prisma Health’s philanthropy office in the Upstate. “It would have been easy to let things fall by the wayside, but these community teams stepped up after facing multiple challenges, all in the pursuit to fight cancer. We look forward to having everyone out on the water again in 2021 and reaching our $500,000 goal to celebrate 15 years of the Festival.”

Despite the unprecedented virtual year, the founding and top fundraising team, Ragin’ Cajuns, raised $18,935; and top fundraiser Nicole Bowen raised more than $5,000 as part of Team Torque. The CIOS Moving On team earned the spirit award and the Heme Team won the best team theme award. 

To learn more about the Prisma Health Upstate Dragon Boat Festival, visit

About Prisma Health

Prisma Health is a not-for-profit health company and the largest healthcare system in South Carolina. With nearly 30,000 team members, 18 hospitals, 2,984 beds and more than 300 physician practice sites, Prisma Health serves more than 1.2 million unique patients annually. Its goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care, as well as conducting clinical research and training the next generation of medical professionals. For more information, visit

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