Actions count. But so does symbolism.

It’s the desire for both symbolic and substantive support for empowering women that’s driving the Eli Broad College of Business in its participation in the Capital City Dragon Boat Race fundraiser, benefiting the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, on Sunday, Sept. 16, at Hawk Island Park in Lansing.

dragon boat“The Broad College feels really strongly about helping women to achieve their full potential, and the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing is a key organization in our community that does that,” said Cheri DeClercq, Broad College assistant dean for MBA programs, who is helping to organize the Broad College’s participation in the event.

“The dragon boat race is an opportunity for us to make a strong stand in support of the initiatives and of the center itself, and it’s been exciting to see so many of our Broad faculty and staff literally jumping on board to make that happen,” DeClercq said.

Cheri DeClercq

Cheri DeClercq

The Women’s Center is a nonprofit that provides career and personal counseling, support groups, and other services for women in need. The Broad College has formed teams of faculty, staff, and students – as have some other MSU colleges – and is encouraging others to attend as spectators to cheer on their peers on race day, and to make donations to the center.

In an email to Broad faculty and staff, Dean Sanjay Gupta said, “Given the current climate at MSU, it is more important than ever for us to come together and support women in our community. It’s a great community event, a wonderful team-building opportunity, and a chance for all Spartans to make a positive impact for women in our community.”

This year, nine of 20 registered teams are affiliated with MSU, including two teams from the Broad College (the “Broad Means Business” team representing the college at large, and a second team for the Executive MBA program). Other Spartan-affiliated teams are from the College of Communications Arts and Science; International Studies & Programs; the College of Arts & Letters; the College of Osteopathic Medicine; the College of Social Work; and MSUFCU.

Last year, teams from across the state competed in the annual event, which raised $10,000 for the Women’s Center. In addition to teams representing the Broad College and other MSU affiliates, there were teams from the Lansing Board of Water and Light, mid-Michigan law enforcement, and other community institutions.

Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay Gupta

“Every year there is a team of survivors,” Cindie Alwood, executive director of the Women’s Center, said after last year’s event. “I think for the teams it’s kind of reclaiming their bodies and pushing themselves in a way they didn’t think possible. Dragon boating is very strenuous; it’s putting yourself out there in a way that you can’t take back. It helps people come to terms with what’s happened to them and take back their personal power.”

Teams are registered in groups of 20, consisting of 18 paddlers, one drummer, and one flag-catcher. An experienced steerperson will be provided by the American Dragon Boat Association, according to registration information.

The event kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a tai chi workout, an “Awakening the Dragons” ceremony, and a “Pink Carnation Remembrance” honoring those who are fighting or have fought breast cancer is at 10:30 a.m. Races begin at 8 a.m. and continue throughout the day. There will also be kids’ activities.

Donations to the Women’s Center can be made via a link on its home page.