Nine-year-old Nick Abrams, of Beaufort, covers second base for his little league team, the Bombers, but that isn’t his most important position.
He’s also the mayor of 7B, a children’s unit at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he receives treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. According to Abrams, “causing trouble for the nurses” with Nerf guns and silly string is at the top of his list of mayoral duties.
After a few words from a fellow mayor, Beaufort’s Mayor Billy Keyserling, Abrams performed the “awaken the dragon” ceremony and kicked off the fourth annual DragonBoat Race Day at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort early Saturday morning. With a quick stroke of a paintbrush, Abrams painted the eyes of a wooden mini-dragon red to begin the day.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Hermine, 22 teams raced boats on the Beaufort River on Saturday to raise money and awareness for cancer patients and survivors. According to the DragonBoat Beaufort website, $50,803 of the organization’s $60,000 goal was raised.
Nancy Stills, the drummer for the Swamp Dragons and a survivor of skin cancer, said people from all over the state, the country and even the world come to Beaufort to compete in the boat races.
“This is (one of) the most genuinely spirited, beautiful events that Beaufort does,” she said. “And the money raised by these teams goes to not just cancer survivors, it goes to individuals directly, to anyone in Beaufort County.”
Despite the scattered power outages and downed trees left by Tropical Storm Hermine on Friday, Stills said she and others were pleased about the turnout on race day and that the community pulled together to make the event happen despite the weather.
“Everybody here is going to win,” she said.
Michelle Snider and her two children, Emma and Ethan, know all too well the effects of Hermine. They still didn’t have power when they left their house Saturday morning after it went out at 9 a.m. Friday.
The concert planned Friday night for the race festival was canceled because of the weather, and the races were delayed Saturday.
But a tropical storm and power outage weren’t enough to stop Snider from coming to support her husband race for the Lockheed Martin team.
“You never know, you really never know,” she said. “I mean, look at everything, you’d never know a storm came through here yesterday.”