The Girls Night Out Dragonboat team is slated to take on Miami’s Save Our Sisters pictured. Photo by Shoot for the Moon.

  “Oh my gosh, I have a competitive spirit! Let’s face it; most of us are not in that good of shape.”

Mary Lou Hoover, president extraordinaire of Key West’s women’s networking group, Girls Night Out, is also at the helm of a dragon boat.

“This started out as an idea and I thought, ‘no. no. I don’t do anything else.’ Then that little voice just said, ‘this is something you need to do.’”

The Girls Night Out Paddle Pushers consists of 20 paddlers, a drummer, and a steer person who will be provided by race organizers. The women age in ranges 20 – 70 and lead the island in many professional facets. Consultant and former owner of Mangoes, Amy Culver is on the team with actress Anne O’Shea, Jeanne Selander from the sheriff’s petting zoo, Karen Frank Noll from AIDS Help, charter boat owner, Lara Fox, and executive director of Womankind, Betsy Langan, to name a few of the femmes. 

Girls Night Out, like many of the dragon boat participants are donating money to a charity. They’re raising money for Womankind via cupcake sells, even karaoke requests at Two Friends Patio!

“I never sing,” reveals Mary Lou. “I got up there ok, and said, ‘if you can raise $100 for me, I’ll sing!’”

Fittingly, the Girls Night Out Paddle Pushers are going to be battling it out in the bay against Miami’s Hope Afloat, Abreast in a Boat Save Our Sisters dragon boat team. This team was initially created by a Canadian sports medicine researcher. He wondered what would happen if he put 20 breast cancer survivors in a dragon boat. The vigorous upper body exercise, going against conventional wisdom, improved their upper body strength and gave them solace in camaraderie.

We can’t talk camaraderie without mentioning those from the Noon Rotary Club.

“You guys are all going down,” threatens Chad Salinero.

He’s put together a team, Real Rotary Rowers, which consists of his new bride, Dr. Lesley Messier, electrician Ronnie Leonard, and plumber Tommy Haskins.

“We’ll be out there,” remarked Haskins suspiciously over lunch. “Oh, yeah. Our club will be there!”

“We’ve been practicing every Sunday for the past six weeks,” Hoover lets on. “We’re ready. We look good. We sound good. Our outfits all match. We are going to be something else. You won’t think we’re a first year team when you see us.”

The partyin’ and paddlin’ goes down the weekend of May 7 and 8 in Marathon. Race registration begins on Friday from 7 – 9 pm at The Hurricane. At 9 pm the tune switches to the Paddlers’ Party. The Hurricane is located at 4650 Overseas HWY. On Saturday, May 8, it’s free to watch the races. The paddling starts at 9 am at Sombrero Beach! For more information go to, or call Karen Bowers at 766-1053!





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