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Why I Paddle - Jenn Buel

Dear TRRA Community,

Three Rivers Rowing Association has a rich history of being an inclusive community organization for all. In 2020, our youngest athlete was 12 years old with our oldest approaching 90 - reinforcing that rowing and paddling truly are life long sports. The sport that we have chosen to participate in has begun for each of us at different points in our lives and for different reasons and continues to have a profound impact on our lives.

As part of the 2020 Annual Appeal, we are excited to introduce the Why I Row/Paddle Series to amplify the voices of our TRRA community. Each week, we will share a story from one of our programs as we celebrate the impact of our entire TRRA community.

Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are kicking off our Why I Row/Paddle series with the Pittsburgh Hearts of SteelDragon Boat Racing Team (HOS). HOS is a support group open to all Breast Cancer Survivors. Although the physical benefits of Dragon Boat Paddling is an important part of the organization, all involved find the support, social, and additional activities of the group just as fulfilling. HOS embraces all members, no matter what activities you choose to participate in, and encourage suggestions from all members. Here now is a story from Jenn, one of its members:

Why I Paddle - Jenn Buel

Hearts of Steel is the positive of a breast cancer diagnosis. Diagnosed with DCIS one month after my 42nd birthday, I was trying to find my new normal. I was struggling to find a survivor group that fit me and was active prior to my diagnosis but after radiation treatment, I was tired and felt weak. I wasn’t sure if I would ever feel as good as prior to treatment.

Then…I met the ladies of HOS who introduced me to Dragon Boating! HOS changed my life and helped me heal physically, emotionally, and mentally. I found a new confidence that had me smiling. I am stronger now than I was prior to treatment and I attribute a lot of that to Dragon Boating.

HOS lifted me up and gave me the confidence I needed to move forward. The ladies of HOS took me in and accepted me with open arms from our first meeting and stood by me when I made the difficult yet exciting decision to move out of state. My time with HOS will always be with me in my heart even though I am hundreds of miles away. In fact, I took these ladies into my MRI screening last month by thinking about HOS and paddling in the boat. I was paddling with HOS on a sunny warm Saturday morning practice all throughout the scan (which came back normal). HOS helped me to move forward in all aspects of my life. Just try it, you won’t regret it! I got the seat warm for you.

- Jenn

We hope that you enjoyed reading Jenn’s story and we thank all members of the HOS program for being inspirational and motivational members of our TRRA community. We look forward to seeing the HOS dragon boats cruising down the river and racing across the finish line again in 2021! Until then, we hope that if you are able, you’ll consider contributing to the Annual Appeal, which will ensure that TRRA is able to have a positive effect on our community for decades to come.


Matt Logue

Executive Director

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