Foundation | News Article

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mountain States Foundation’s Dragon Boat Festival nets more than $25,000 for local cancer patients

The 2017 Mountain States Foundation Dragon Boat Festival was held Sept. 8-9 at Warriors' Path State Park. It raised money for the Circle of Hope program, which provides extra resources for patients with cancer who need financial help while receiving medical care.


KINGSPORT, Tenn. – The 12th annual Mountain States Foundation Dragon Boat Festival presented by SUBWAY® Restaurants wrapped up after another successful year, with fundraising efforts ending on Sept. 18. This year’s event supported Circle of Hope, the foundation's program to assist cancer patients.

The festival took place Sept. 8-9 at Warriors’ Path State Park.

The overall race winner was one of Bell Helicopter’s teams – Bell Flew Bayou Once – which finally got past three-time champion Murray Guard Marauders. The Quillen Dragon Hearts took third overall.

The top fundraising team – with more than $8,500 raised – was AXIS II, Woodridge Hospital’s team. All members of AXIS II will receive special dragon boat medals.

The top fundraising individual was Celesta Young, behavioral assessment counselor at Woodridge Hospital, in an incredibly close competition. Young won by less than $10 after both she and runner-up Kevin Brooks, supervisor/energy & controls engineer with Mountain States’ facilities and construction management team, raised more than $5,100 apiece.

The grand prize was a one-week vacation at Hilton Head Island, S.C., in a five-bedroom, three-bathroom Sea Pines Plantation home, donated by Allison Rogers, VP for strategic planning, and her husband, Brian. Because the competition was so close, they generously agreed to award both Young and Brooks one-week vacation stays.

Each year, the paddle team displaying the best spirit throughout the day wins the coveted Spirit Award. The winner – for the second year in a row – was Human Remains, a team primarily from Mountain States’ Washington County/corporate human resources department.

The Dragon Boat Festival kicked off on Friday, Sept. 8, with the Battle of the Badges – a competitive dragon boat race celebrating the region’s first responders and military. The Washington County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office claimed the winning title for the second year in a row.

Human Remains was among the day's big winners.The next morning, the full festival got rolling as 26 teams took to the water in different heats for the highly-anticipated dragon boat races.

Click here to view a Mountain Star gallery of photos from the event.

While the races were underway, families enjoyed lots of activities at the community festival. There was a health fair, a kids’ Dragon Land with silly string battles, a balloon artist, a cornhole tournament and other fun games.

The festival was also the Northeast Tennessee debut of Tennessee Brew Works’ State Park blonde ale, which benefits state parks. The brewery handed out complimentary samples of the beer.

And there was a special doggy stop just for four-legged friends. Dogs were encouraged to dress up, and the dog with the best costume won a prize from Sticky Paws Bakery. The winner was a Maltese named Missy, who came dressed up in pink butterfly wings. Missy is a brand-new member of the family of Lisa Carter, CEO of Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

The Mountain States Foundation Dragon Boat Festival has supported a variety of important causes over its 12-year history. This year’s beneficiary, the Circle of Hope program, provides extra resources for patients with cancer who may need financial help while receiving medical care. The program offers services and items related to cancer care like gas cards, medications, dental assistance and public transportation.

“Circle of Hope does so much for our patients because when you’re diagnosed with cancer, you not only have the stress of ‘How am I going to beat this?’ but for some, there’s also the stress of ‘How am I going to pay for this?’” said Zilipah Cruz, nurse manager at the Johnson City Medical Center’s Regional Cancer Center and radiation oncology. “Without Circle of Hope, some of our patients wouldn’t be able to make it to treatments or afford their medicines.”

Since the Dragon Boat Festival was established 11 years ago, it has raised more than $950,000 to support local patients through the Mountain States Foundation.

To view and download more pictures from the event on the Mountain States Foundation site, visit

This year’s presenting sponsor was SUBWAY® Restaurants. Other sponsors include Bell Helicopter, Bojangles’, Citi, Computer Pros, First Tennessee Foundation, H&R Block, Johnson Controls, MeadowView Marriot Conference Resort & Convention Center, Nuclear Fuel Services Inc., Pepsi, PromoPro, State of Franklin Healthcare Associates, Tennessee State Parks, Wexler’s Landscape Management, WJHL-TV, 98.5 WTFM and Greater Kingsport Family YMCA.



(With Mountain States teams identified in parentheses)

Mountain States Foundation Dragon Boat Championship Cup

  1. Bell Flew Bayou Once 53.83
  2. Murray Guard Marauders 54.72
  3. Quillen Dragon Hearts 56.36

Bell Helicopter Challenge Cup

  1. LaFerney Legends (JC Medical Center ER)
  2. Bell Flew Bayou Twice
  3. F3 Northeast Tennessee

First Tennessee Foundation Challenge Cup

  1. Water Warriors (Indian Path Medical Center)
  2. Axis II (Woodridge)
  3. Local Rowers

Nuclear Fuels Services Challenge Cup

  1. Nuclear Destroyer
  2. Human Remains (Mountain States HR)
  3. Wiki Wiki Hoe Wa'a (Franklin Woods Community Hospital)

MeadowView Conference Resort Challenge Cup

  1. League of Their Own
  2. Hospital Heroes (JC Medical Center)
  3. Water Beasts

Pepsi Challenge Cup

  1. Drug Runners (Mountain States Pharmacy)
  2. Ellie's Anchors (Niswonger NICU nurses)
  3. The Eagle Has Landed


Wellmont had a big presence this year, with four teams and an 'American Heroes' theme that honored our military services.