• 82°

Dragon Boat Race draws big crowd

Thousands of people attended Saturday’s dragon boat race at West Point Lake, which in its fourth year continues to grow in its support of Harmony House Domestic Violence Shelter.

This year’s race West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race included 28 teams and brought a large crowd to Pyne Road Park. Officially, the winning team was Southern Rehab and Sports Medicine with a time of 58.628 seconds, but the day’s real winner was the domestic violence center, which raised around $40,000 to help victims of domestic violence in Troup County and the surrounding area.

All of the money raised will go directly to helping fund the shelter, which received 900 crisis calls last year — the most in its history.

“This fundraiser is unrestricted funds so we can use this for things that grants don’t want to pay for sometimes, such as the car insurance or the light bill for the shelter,” said Michele Bedingfield, executive director of Harmony House. “It can go for the unrestricted, but it is also used to leverage other dollars.”

Bedingfield said on every grant application she fills out, there are questions about community support. She said the dragon boat race makes it easy to explain how well the Troup County community supports Harmony House. She said about 700 people participate, with several thousand spectating.

It’s also a chance to raise awareness for the shelter.

“At every single practice, I had an opportunity to speak to people about what Harmony House does, what our services are and how to make referrals,” Bedingfield said.

Many of the teams who participated said the event brings them together, as people on different shifts get a chance to get to know one another.

“We work with a lot of the organizations that are here, especially for Harmony House,” said Ryan Cook, the associated dean of campus life at LaGrange College. “It’s a great event that raises a lot of money, while doing a really fun, team-building activity.”

SouthCrest Church returned for the second year to support Harmony House and to be visible in the community. SouthCrest has campuses in Newnan and LaGrange.

“We want to give back to our community and we try to choose ministry partners, about four or five organizations that we really want to get behind and help financially,” said SouthCrest team captain Pete Shoger. “Harmony House is one of those organizations. We believe in what they do, so it’s a great way to spend time in our community but also give back in our community.”

Paula J. Waldron State Farm finished second with a time of 59.025 and Mike Patton Auto Family finished third with a time of 59.704.