Mini Dragons race for the first time in Western Canada

05 September 2013

Winnipeg, Manitoba -

Bruce Bondesen was doing what good friends do, helping his friend through his cancer experience any way he could.   Bondesen would drive his friend to radiation treatment for a cancer that had grown in his neck.  Just 6 months later, Bondesen discovered that he too had cancer – in fact the same cancer in the exact same spot on his own neck.

“ I was real fortunate because with my friend’s cancer, I was paying much closer attention to my own body,” says Bondesen.   “That’s how I discovered the lump in my neck.”    The Cancer Society says that all Manitobans should know there body well and report any irregularities to their doctor.  If cancer is detected early, there is a much better chance of beating it.

Bondesen is now happily cancer free, and this weekend he will join paddlers from across Manitoba to race mini dragon boats at the Canadian Cancer Society and Manitoba Paddling Association’s September Dragon Boat Challenge.  It’s the first time in Western Canada these new smaller boats will be raced.  Because the boats are only half the size, there is room for them to make a turn on the river – which paddlers will have to do as they race to the finish line.

Bondesen and his wife are the owners of The Tulip Florist, and they will be donating flowers for the event’s moving Flower of HOPE Ceremony Saturday afternoon.   The ceremony has cancer survivors sit in boats on the water, while participants line the shore and throw flowers in the water, to pay tribute to loved ones lost to cancer and show gratitude for survivors of the disease.

“I’m grateful every morning and at the end of each day,” says Bruce.  “You never know when you might be hit by car, or struck by lightning - so live each day to the fullest.  That’s my philosophy.”

Bondesen says that he owes his recovery to the funds raised for research, diagnosis and treatment through organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society. 

For 75 year now, Canadians have trusted the Canadian Cancer Society to lead the fight against ALL cancers.  In that time, they have funded over $1.2 billion in research, and lives are being saved as a result. In the 1930’s only about 25% survived a cancer diagnosis.  Today, survival rates are at 63%.

The September Dragon Boat Challenge raises funds needed in order to continue making progress in the cancer fight.  It is a great way for companies, cancer survivors, their friends and family, and others affected by cancer to team build, have some fun and challenge themselves.


Originating in China as folk ritual over 2,000 years ago, dragon boat racing today consists of boats propelled by paddlers, a steersperson, and kept in sync by a drummer. It decades past it has become increasingly popular all over the world.

The moving Flower of HOPE ceremony, when participants will throw flowers into the river to pay honour to loved ones who are battling cancer or have lost their life to the disease is at 2:30pm. The festival will be capped with a championship race that starts at 5:30 on Saturday.

Media are invited to attend the Flower Ceremony (2:30pm) on Saturday, September 7 at the Manitoba Paddling Association – 80 Churchill Drive.  Bruce Bondesen and a Cancer Society spokesperson will be available for interviews.  Final races start at 5:30pm

The event runs Friday 6:00-10:00pm, Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Permanand

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society


Phone: 204-990-4310