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Jacqui Nickell
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National Veterans Wheelchair Games Rowers at White Rock Lake

On Thursday, December 17th, Dallas United Crew (DUC) will have the opportunity to present their growth and transformation story to the Dallas Park and Recreation Board.  Since its inception in 2002, Dallas United has grown from a single program with a competitive high school rowing team to offering six distinct programs serving close to 700 participants, both youth and adults, in competitive and recreational oar and paddle sports.  Dallas United serves people of all ages and abilities, including those with disabilities, giving unprecedented access to the water for Wounded Warriors and paralyzed athletes, as well as underserved youth with limited financial means, and Dallas’s first dragon boating team for breast cancer survivors. 

What was the catalyst for this significant growth?  The answer is simple.  In 2012, the Dallas Park and Recreation Board and the Dallas City Council recognized Dallas United’s ability to give more citizens of Dallas the opportunity to get out on the water. With unanimous decisions, both Park Board and the City Council granted approval for Dallas United to seek private funding for a new community boathouse for the city which would further enable the growth and broad reach of their programs. The City’s call to action in 2012 was that Dallas United develop programs and a facility for all of Dallas -- that White Rock Lake Park and DUC’s programs should be enjoyed by everyone.  Dallas United listened and delivered.  Over the past three years, they have remained focused on transforming their programs, delivering a broad range of rowing and paddling offerings so that more people can engage the water. 

Dallas United’s 2015 accomplishments bring to life what can be done with limited facilities.  Rowing off a trailer in a gravel parking lot at White Rock Lake, Dallas United is powered by the strong commitment and volunteer hours of staff, friends and families.  Imagine the potential of serving even more Dallas citizens with a public Community Boathouse.  This will be a one-of-a-kind facility in the U.S, putting Dallas on the map for oar and paddle sports in the way that Klyde Warren Park and the Arts District have brought people together from across the diverse metroplex.

“Dallas United Crew has experienced great progress and success, and we will remain, as we always have, good stewards of the lake," said Board President Belinda McDonnell. "We are committed and passionate about our ability to serve the citizens of Dallas.  Our mission is to transform lives and build community through teamwork in oar and paddle sports, and Dallas United is dedicated to making that happen. We hope the Park Board will continue their support for Dallas United Crew.”

Dallas United has a simple ask of the Dallas Park Board this Thursday.  They are asking for additional time to solidify funding to build the Community Boathouse. The Boathouse will be 100% funded by private donations, at no cost to the City, and DUC is gaining traction with their capital campaign.  Dallas United continues to grow and reach even more people through success in their community-based programs.  Their desire is to make the Community Boathouse a reality for the City of Dallas

2015 highlights of Dallas United’s accomplishments through its community-based programs:

  • Engaged 700 people on the water through DUC’s programs, with over 60% adult participants.
  • Logged 10,000 volunteer hours, plus 2,000 for National Veterans Wheelchair Games hosted by the City of Dallas.
  • Attracted 70% of participants from Dallas drawing from over 50 Dallas zip codes and over 30 Dallas schools.
  • Hosted free programs which served over 30% of total participants, including disabled veterans, underserved youth recreation programs, and participants at Learn to Row and Learn to Dragon Boat events.
  • Awarded over $47,000 in financial assistance to youth rowers to date this year.
  • Hosted over 40 teens from Exline Rec Center and Marcus Rec Center in summer 2015, with plans to double the program in 2016.
  • Competed with Dallas’ first adaptive coxswain on the competitive high school team.
  • Hosted over 80 wheelchair veterans on the water for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. This annual event was hosted by the City of Dallas with veterans attending from around the country. Dallas United was selected by NVWG to offer rowing for the first time in the history of the Games. 
  • Received the VA Adaptive Sports Grant in partnership with US Rowing to build a pipeline of adaptive athletes from Dallas to the US Paralympic Rowing Team.
  • Forged strong relationships with VA Sports Programs and Paralyzed Veterans of America as the go-to organization in this region for veterans’ activities. Received a grant from VA Adaptive Sports program and US Rowing to increase programs and equipment for adaptive veterans’ programs.
  • Established the first dragon boat team in Dallas for breast cancer survivors.
  • Continued building on opportunities for youth to attend college. Rowing offers the highest percentage of access to college scholarships of any sport. Began an initiative working with Dallas Recreation Centers to develop outreach programs to give all Dallas youth access to these college scholarships.
  • Received increased national recognition and continued growth in number of participants for competitive rowing and dragon boating programs, competing in events around the country and proudly representing the City of Dallas. 

For more information on Dallas United, please contact:

Belinda McDonnell, President – belinda@belindamcdonnell.com

Lisa Miller, Vice President and Media Relations – lisawmiller@sbcglobal.net

Donna Swanson, former President and Board Member – dswanson003@tx.rr.com

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