Gazebo Gazette

Since 2016 some of the Coast’s largest companies, organizations and non-profits have come together in support of United Way of South Mississippi (UWSM) at the Gulf Coast Dragon Boat Festival, a unique fundraising event raising money for education, health and financial stability while engaging in a little friendly competition for bragging rights.

The fifth annual installment returned after a 2 year pause on Saturday, April 29th, presented by Keesler Federal Credit Union, at The Dock in Gulfport. The festival was a great win for the community as festival patrons raised funds in a variety of ways for UWSM’s mission in Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River and Stone Counties.

Of the funds raised, 99% will stay in UWSM’s impact area as it strives to improve lives for all families in South Mississippi.

“The heart of the annual Dragon Boat Festival is the thrill of the races, but also the time spent working together with your team and connecting businesses to non-profits in the community to improve the lives of everyone in South Mississippi communities”, said UWSM’s CEO, Kathy Springer. “The festival has grown every year and 2022’s turnout was the biggest and best yet; hundreds of rowers from across the coast came together once again to support our mission and we could not be more pleased with the outcome.”

The races yielded some exciting results:

1st Place Overall: Sparklight “Team Sparklight”
2nd Place Overall: Chemours “Chemours Komodos”
3rd Place Overall: Chevron “Team Chevron”
Full Throttle Award: TIE: Lamar “Team 5 Second Leeway” and Chemours “Chemours Komodos” More Often Than Knot Award: Harrah’s “Breakin’ Wind”
Dynamic Drummer Award: GCCFCU “Water We Doing Here???” (Bridgette)
Most “In-Tents” Competitor Award: Coca Cola “Team Coke”
Swaggin’ Dragon Award: KFCU “Dragon Behind”
The Golden Anchor Award: Goodwill of S MS “Team ThriftOARS”
Fish Out of Water Award: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Gulf Coast “Team Phoenix”
Most Food Donations for Back Bay Mission Food Drive (Certificate): Goodwill

The Gulf Coast Dragon Boat Festival started in 2016 and quickly became one of UWSM’s biggest fundraising events. The festival’s primary draw is the dragon boat races.

Apart from general sponsorships, local organizations support UWSM by putting together a dragon boat team of 21 individuals to fill the 40-foot row boats.

The teamwork involved and fast-paced nature of the races make Dragon Boat Festival one of the most fun means of supporting South Mississippi communities.

United Way of South Mississippi, established in 1992, fights for measurable and lasting improvements in the education, health and financial stability of all people in Hancock, Harrison, Pearl River and Stone counties.

Working with community partners and funded by generous donors, the organization identifies critical community needs and then works to secure resources and provide coordinated support for local nonprofit partners working to address those needs.