Meet our Team
Maureen - Coach
Coach Maureen started her career as a dragon boat racer in 2005. She fell in love with the sport. The boats, people and the physical challenge drew her in. So much so that she set a goal to make the 2007 Team USA going to Australia. With hard work, determination and commitment to attending every practice and learning the sport, she made the team. Australia was her first of many national and international competitions. She went on to win a Gold Medal in the National Championships in 2008 at Long Beach, CA. Silver and Bronze World Medalist in Progue in 2009, Gold Medal winner and National Champion in 2010. Multiple Silver and Bronze Medalist in 2011 at the Tampa Bay International Dragon Boat Championship, Silver Medalist at the 2012 World Club Crew Championships in Hong Kong and finally Gold Medal winner and National Premier Champion in 2013. Click HERE to open a Word document to learn more about Coach Maureen.
Ruth - Captain
In February 2007, I saw a flyer about the formation of a local cancer survivors dragon boat team while I was sitting in my Oncologist's office. I went to the orientation meeting and mentioned all of the physical reasons why I won't be able to paddle. The mentoring team's captain said to me, "Just get in the boat" so I did! I have been a member of our team since its inception that Spring. What an amazing and resilient group of women we are! I've watched us get stronger as paddlers, individually and as a team, and as cancer survivors through the ups and downs that often means. We are there for each other in and out of the boat. Always providing an ear to listen and lots of laughter and hugs! This group cheered me on as I pursued my PhD over 7 years, always asking me, "Aren't you done yet??" I am proud and grateful to be this year's Captain, paddler and drummer. And It's such fun to now have my grandchildren rooting for our team on festival days!
Mary - Co-Captain
My name is Mary and I have the privilege of being the co-captain of the River Sisters. I joined the team in 2012 after being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer . During my first season I had to wear a back brace to protect my bones from any further damage. I cried after my first practice because I had finally found my place in life with this team. I am blessed to have met this group of girls who are compassionate, caring, resilient and strong. I am proud to call them all my sisters. We are a family who are always willing to help each other and make every new member feel as if they have known us for ever.
I am a nurse who works about 50 hours a week in both the school and the hospital setting. I have tried many different exercise routines throughout the years but paddling on a dragon boat has given me both the physical and mental strength to continue to battle cancer. My 3 grown children come to the festivals and support not only me but the whole team who have embraced them throughout the years. I love this team and plan to paddle for many years to come.
Joan - President
I was born and raised in Northeast Philly and have been living in South Jersey since I graduated from college. Professionally, I am in my second career managing apartment complexes. The first time around I was a radio newscaster. I have 2 grown daughters, a granddaughter and grandson. The little guys know that grandmom loves dragons and drgaon boats. That bit of magic makes up for my bad cooking.
Besides the River Sisters and all things dragon boat I quilt, everything from tee-shirt quilts to wall hangings. And I love to travel. Just when I’ve completed the travel bucket list I manage to add a few more locations. Like maybe New Zealand in 2022.
Michelle - Vice President
I reside in a great little neighborhood in Somerdale where I grew up. Married my high school friend, started our family in Arizona and returned to raise our three children here surrounded by our families. Now our youngest is waiting for his upcoming wedding day and our daughter is settled nearby and happily married. Joe and I have found traveling to be a great joy! We’ve been fortunate to have visited numerous countries abroad and are looking forward to a trip to Portugal in the fall.
I currently work for WW (Weight Watchers) in different capacities as I have for over 2o years and started teaching yoga in 2005. I love doing both, finding gratification in helping others find their path in a healthier way. Volunteering has also been a big part of my life, whether it be at the local school, church or more recently, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a fantastic resource for women dealing with breast cancer.
I was diagnosed twice with breast cancer, DCIS in 2007 and IDC in 2012. The River Sisters is an amazing group of women that I reached out to while undergoing chemo. I had read a wonderful newspaper article about their battling breast cancer “one stroke at a time” and thought "maybe?". I was hooked the first time I was forced into the boat at paddle pool, and h ave been thankful ever since for the friendship, the fun and community that we share! Dragonboating by all accounts is a passion that is catchy~
Jacki - Secretary
I am an original member when the team was created in 2007. Since the first time I sat in a dragon boat and placed a paddle in the river I was hooked! Through the years I have had the joy of paddling with amazing, strong women who will not let the effects of cancer keep them down. We laugh, have fun and get exercise; but when a member has a need the team is always there in any way~ we are a floating support group! I am honored to be part of this wonderful group and look forward to many more years of paddling.
Andrea - Treasurer
Denise - Trustee
If a fortune teller had been with my oncologist fifteen years ago and predicted, “You will become part of a team of amazing warrior women, get trained by a world class paddler in Florida, become more physically fit than in any time in your life, race in competitions all over the country and the world, and meet lifelong friends who will inspire you for the rest of your life,” I would have walked out of the office. Yeah, right. But all of those predictions would speak to truth about the River Sisters. I am proud and honored to have served as captain of the team for three years. I am also grateful for the support of a husband and daughter who love the Sisters as much as I do!
Jini - Captain Emeritus
I was diagnosed with stage IIIC, HER+ breast cancer in 2007. While attending a support group, I met Jackie, a current member of the River Sisters. I joined in 2009 and have loved this fantastic group of survivors! We laugh together while we build our strength paddling for competitions, celebrating the strong women we are, while getting together in the off season socially. I Have been married to my husband Bob for 27 years and we have 2 beautiful daughters. I am a retired school librarian who now owns a small photo organizing business. I enjoy yoga, pilates reformer, dance, Zumba, walking, swimming, bike riding and the shore!
In 2008 at the age of 51 I found a lump on my breast in between mammograms, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had a double mastectomy. In 2010 Sue, another River Sister asked me to come out and try dragon boating. I laughed at first because I had never been in any kind of sports before. She dragged me to Cooper River for my first practice. I tried it and was hooked after the first practice. I’ve been on the team ever since. The women on this team are compassionate, kind, and would do anything for another sister in need. I love them all and I am blessed to be a part of this team!!
In 2017, I was diagnosed with Stage III Inflammatory Breast Cancer. After 18 months of chemotherapy, surgery, 15 weeks of daily radiation and a year of oral chemo, I ventured back into the world. At a Weight Watchers meeting, I reconnected with Michelle and she suggested that I join the River Sisters dragon boat team. My initial response was “I’m much too weak!” Michelle countered “This is how you can become strong again!”
Sure enough, I gave it a try and was met with generosity, kindness, and encouragement from this amazing group of women. The 2019 season was my first...and I’m looking forward to many more!
I am a retired kindergarten teacher and I live in Cherry Hill with my husband Joe. We have two grown children and two beautiful grandsons. I enjoy every minute that I can spend with them!
Being a member of the River Sisters team is a privilege and a pleasure. Michelle was right...I’ve become stronger—both in body and in spirit! My teammates inspire me every day!
2020 will be my 10th season as a River Sister! I was blessed to find this group.
My 1st brush with cancer was in 2009, which was a stage 3 breast cancer for which I had double mastectomies, chemo & radiation.
I never considered myself an athlete or competitive, however, I am evolving in many ways thanks to being a survivor & a member of this team. What doesn't kill you truly makes you stronger & there can be a silver lining after getting a cancer diagnosis. I am proof!
Becoming a River Sister has encouraged me to challenge myself & move outside my comfort zone. I have made wonderful, cherished friendships.
In 2016, I had a second bout with cancer. This time it was uterine cancer & I had the wonderful support of my "sisters"! I believe I might have fared better in my diagnosis & treatment due to my fitness, directly attributable to dragon boating and being a member of the fabulous River Sisters. I love my team!
Little did I know that in 2004, when I paddled with a Corporate Team for the Philadelphia International Dragon Boat Festival (aka the October Philly race) that it would turn into a 17+ year “love affair.” Most of my paddling has been on the Schuylkill River with a women’s club team. Last year, I joined the River Sisters on the Cooper River, a wonderful group of women who are an inspiration to all. Being a cancer survivor brought us all together, but the passion for the sport and the friendships we have made is what makes this team special! I look forward to continue paddling alongside my team mates for many more years!
In 2016 I went the Burlington, VT dragon boat festival. We watched the teams of breast cancer survivors race and party! I loved it and told my husband I wanted to join a team. One thing was missing, I did not have breast cancer. Fast forward to August 2018. I was diagnosed with mucinous (colloid) breast cancer and had a single mastectomy in September. As I was recovering from another surgery that December, I started googling for a local dragon boat team. And I found River Sisters. At the first team meeting, I saw a roomful of strong, fun (and funny) women and knew I wanted to be on the team. 2019 was my first year. So much technique to learn, but the Sisters were so encouraging. I loved my first season and the Sisters. And so blessed and thankful to be a part of this amazing bunch! I’m a retired school nurse. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 51 years and we have two grown sons, one grandson and two granddaughters. Best of all, my younger son now lives in Burlington, VT and I was lucky enough to participate in the 2019 dragonboat festival! It was even better to be a part of it and to do it with my team!
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, my older daughter told me about a dragon boat team of powerful women who were breast cancer survivors. It sounded exciting but i was afraid it would conflict with work. So i just pondered the thought.
One year at a survivor luncheon hosted by Relay for Life, a presentation was made by a team member "Meny" Menewisch about this same dragon boat team "The River Sisters" She spoke of the group with such enthusiasm, and love for the sport I was definitely intrigued. I took her phone number and gave it some serious thought.
Work then became very busy and again i put this thought on hold.
Fast forward a couple of years it was memorial day, i wasn't doing anything exciting and longing to have more female friends. My mind wandered to that relay for life presentation made so many years ago.
I wondered if it was still possible to be a part of this team and if they would have me. I kept "Menys" number and called her up to see if she was still involved with the team. She was, and so in love with the sport, that i was hooked as well.
It has been a wonderful opportunity to meet all types of women, and i know they are there as a support and encouragement in life, which is exactly what i was looking for, thank you River Sisters!
Last summer, thanks to my Michelle, I had the joy of paddling with the River Sisters in a community boat on Cooper River. Everyone on the team was so kind, welcoming and inspirational that I knew this was a team and a sport I wanted to be a part of. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 18 from a fluke ski accident. That day I learned 2 things, I am VERY bad at skiing and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I am so excited to be apart of this team and ready to get out onto the water with all of these amazing women!
While working at Active Day Medical Day, I was diagnosed with cancer. I met “Meny”(Catherine) who insisted that I give The River Sisters/Dragon Boating a try...hesitant at first, I quickly took a love to the team. Being on the water with this amazing group of women is therapeutic and fun! When I am not paddling, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, neighbors and family. I also enjoy walking and hiking with my hound dog, Dudley.
I grew up in Levittown, PA where my mother who is 89 years old still resides. I now live in Maple Shade. Like all of us, cancer found a place in my life but otherwise I have remained a strong and healthy woman. I am most proud of my two daughters, both married and with jobs they like. My husband and I live nearby and get to be with our two energetic grandsons.
But where you will best get to know me is in our dragon boat with the women known as the River Sisters. While waiting to have chemo in the summer of 2014, I picked up a pamphlet about the team and dragon boating. I was excited to be with women who understood breast cancer and kept strong with a sport that involved coordination to succeed. So on a cold rainy day in the spring of 2015, I was welcomed to a team of friendly and caring women who wanted to teach me how to paddle. The predicament of living with cancer allowed me to be with women who shared their love, laughter, and strengths both inside and outside the dragon boat. My family shares in the happiness I have as a River Sister. And as for the cancer, these women have helped me in many ways that I will always be thankful for.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer November 2006. I finished treatment in March 2007. I had a friend that told me about this River Sisters group and I joined in May 2007. I love the water so this was perfect for me. We are a group of smart, funny, caring women with a wide array of backgrounds. We have fun, but most importantly, we are a support system for all who have gone through the trauma of cancer, any cancer. I had a recurrence in August of 2013 and this group’s support helped pull me through.
When I joined the River Sisters I lived in Medford. For the last three years, my husband Ray and I have lived between Long Beach Island and Naples, Florida. I sail, walk, bike, play tennis, bridge, mahjong and write poetry. . We have a son, daughter and granddaughter that live near Boulder, Colorado and a son, daughter, granddaughter and new twins, a boy and girl, that live near Lake Tahoe, Nevada. I think you find your best life after cancer.
Can I try something new at 85? I had triple negative breast cancer in 2011 and ER pos. breast cancer in 2018 with surgery, chemo & radiation each time. . I am a retired medical laboratorian and a soundboard tech volunteer at my church. My husband and four children always enjoyed canoeing. I switched to a kayak after my husband died. My daughter, Linda dragon boats with the Red Dragon Canoe Club in Beverly, NJ. I recently attended a cancer survivors program and your members had a table with information about the River Sisters. Your orientation meeting was very welcoming so I signed up to give it a try.
Hi, I am a widow with one married daughter who lives in Vermont and I have two wonderful grandsons. Born and raised in Philly, I moved to Mt. Laurel 40 years ago, and own my own medical transcription company.
I was diagnosed with Stage IIb triple negative breast cancer in May of 2012. I underwent chemo, surgery and radiation, and was declared in remission in January of 2013.
Although I had never really played any sports in school, I was determined that I wasn't going to let cancer define me, so I entered a triathlon that summer and completed the 5K run. I then happened to see a flyer about the River Sisters at a Dermatology office. I went to their meeting and was surprised at the enthusiasm and friendliness of the group, which included all ages, sizes, shapes of women, whose common thread was surviving breast cancer and celebrating their victory.
Thank goodness our coach at the time, Rosemary, had lots of patience with me, and although I am not anywhere near great at it, the camaraderie of the team, the generosity, and the spirit we all share has been the best experience I have ever had, and I'm proud to say I'm a member of the "River Sisters Dragon Boat Team. River Sisters."