Jackson EMC’s Power Paddlers, an all-women dragon boat paddling team made up of employees from across the company, won gold in their first-ever dragon boat competition. The group raced in the 2015 Atlanta Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Lanier Olympic Venue in support of cultural awareness and dragon boating around the world. Though unexpected, the team finished first in all-women open division. This was the first race for the all-female team and the sixth race for the company overall.
“We enjoy getting together away from the office, just family and friends,” said Co-captain Tiffany Pethel, help desk analyst. “In its 20th year, the event was an amazing sight to see, with the regatta featuring ceremonies, shows, worldwide food dishes, children’s events and vendors. It was family fun, unique and the best cultural event in our area, steeped in Asian custom and tradition.”
They event was also especially meaningful to the team as they honored co-worker Phil Strickland, aka Dude, service representative and former Dragon Boat team captain who is now fighting his own battle against cancer and unable to participate. “It takes teamwork, time and resources to participate in festivities like this, but it gave us ladies a way to honor Dude since the event means so much to him,” added Pethel.
Co-captains Pethel and Elke Yath, human resources specialist, along with their colleagues, competed against 72 teams from across the country. “We originally planned to have a co-ed team, but when we started talking about the event, we ended up with enough support for an all-ladies team,” said Yath.
The team consisted of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersman: Lisa Ayala, bi-lingual customer service representative (CSR); Wanda Azpeitia, department/district secretary; daughter Sara Azpeitia; Sheconda Benton, help desk analyst; daughter Akera Benton; Melanie Berryman, department/district secretary; Shawnmarie Budde, work order accounting clerk; Barbara Gooch, corporate receptionist; Lori McCutcheon, director of technical services; Elia Perez, bi-lingual contact center rep; Co-captain Tiffany Pethel, her mother Bettina Ginn and friends Amanda Whelchel and Leanne Williams; Christy Queen, marketing resource specialist; Claudia Rubio, bi-lingual CSR; April Sorrow, customer relations/communications rep; Mayra Velez and her friend Amberly Austin; and Co-captain Elke Yath and her friend Mandy Buser, along with the support team of Kevin Cash, journeyman lineman and his wife Kelsey Cash; Chip Jakins, president/CEO; Charlie Watson, district operations superintendent; Terry Jones, job training safety specialist and his wife Melinda; Kay Parks, public/community relations rep and her husband Andy, along with many children, grandchildren and friends.
The festival is one of a series of events held around the world to promote the sport of dragon boating and build bridges of cultural awareness between Asian and local communities by emphasizing artisanship, teamwork and competition. Learn more at www.dragonboatatlanta.com.