The dragon boat race has a roaring return; First Baptist Church on the Square Brings Home Gold – LaGrange Daily News

Twenty-two teams turned around the normally calm waters of West Point Lake Saturday to capture top honors in the sixth annual West Point Lake Dragon Boat Race. One team ⁠— First Baptist Church on the Square ⁠— ended up taking home the gold, literally. As the team members discovered, they won thanks to some help from above – and from those on the boat itself.

“We had an angel on board,” said team member Bill Hunnicutt.

That angel was team member Tanya Abernathy, who served as the team’s drummer, hence the angelic outfit.

“I’m really excited that we won,” Abernathy said after the win. “We were focused and had a good team and a plan. Most importantly, God is watching over us.”

Jackson Services placed second and CrossFit placed third.

Other awards included LaGrange Grocery for Best Tailgate, Duracell for Best Drummer, Hyundai MOBILIS for Best Team Spirit, and Bailey Metal for Dragon’s Choice.

While bragging rights were certainly a highlight for the winning teams, the purpose of attending the lakeside event far outweighed the need for glory.

All proceeds went to Harmony House, a domestic violence shelter in LaGrange. The nonprofit organization wanted to raise $40,000. The final donation amount from the event is expected to be announced on Monday.

Harmony House chief executive Michelle Beddingfield explained that the current economic situation is limiting the services the organization can offer, although no one is being asked for help. Domestic violence situations often come with financial limitations, Beddingfield said, and those who seek help from Harmony House need additional financial support during recovery.

“We’re trying to break through all the barriers, but it’s also taking a toll on our budget,” Beddingfield said. “We used to be able to put $25 in it [their] Car to take them back and forth to work, but that’s more expensive now. But we have to go through this. There is simply no other way. We will continue to serve and we will serve well.”

LaGrange Police Department Chief Lou Dekmar ⁠ — who served on the team at The Smokin’ Pigs ⁠ unit — noted the shelter’s importance in supporting people in domestic situations in the community.

“[Domestic violence], alongside gang and drug involvement, is the single most contributor to homicide,” Dekmar said. “It’s the close collaboration [LPD] With Harmony House and its volunteers, we have credited the significant increase in serious assault and homicide.”

Among the new teams was Hyundai MOBIS Georgia, which ultimately finished low in both races. However, the reason for participating outweighed the need for a trophy.

“Giving back is really important to MOBIS Georgia,” said Natisha McGhee, Hyundai MOBIS Georgia Manager. “Within our global [companies] we all do community events. This year we decided to host the Harmony House Dragon Boat Race for ourselves.”

MOBIS Georgia’s attendance included a previous visit by Hyundai MOBIS President Lim Young-Deuk, McGhee said. She added that the Georgia branch hopes to participate next year.

“We want to take Mike Patton’s place next year,” McGhee said. “We’re excited about it.”

The Mike Patton Auto Family has sponsored the Harmony House Dragon Boat Race since its conception. That year the company finished sixth overall and fourth and sixth in rounds 1 and 2 of the races.

“We loved [the Dragon Boat Race] five minutes,” said Mike Patton. “It’s fun to do team building and is a great event for the community.”

To learn more about Harmony House, visit

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