PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A team of dragon boaters from two Philadelphia middle schools will be competing along the Schuylkill River Saturday a few paddlers short.
Several of their teams’ members are unable to compete, still healing from injuries sustained during a tragic bus accident two weeks ago.
The Healthy Dragons have been on the water for weeks, getting prepared for Saturday’s Independence Dragon Boat Regatta.
“What we mostly focus on is staying on time,” said Anthony Rivera, an 8th grader.
Manned with 6th, 7th and 8th graders from Linglebach Elementary and Henry School, they’re a well-oiled machine.
Their boat typically has 22 boaters, but today they are short more than a half-dozen paddlers.
“They know that something awful happened, but they want to be here for each other,” said Kristine Heberley, a coach from Charles W. Henry School.
Seven members of the team were hurt in the Maryland bus accident that injured nearly 30 students and teachers from the Henry School two weeks ago.
“She’s doing good, her leg is healing. She had stitches, she got them out Friday,” said Imani Daniel, a 6th grader at Linglebach.
Her sister, Kayla Daniel, an 8th grader at Henry, injured her back and leg in the accident and is still healing.
“She’s still sensitive about the crash, whenever you talk about it,” Imani said.
So she won’t be competing with the crew.
“It’s sad that they don’t get to do what they wanted to do,” said Imani.
“It was pretty tragic to know that some of our team members had gotten into a terrible accident,” said Rivera.
But the entire team is rallying, thanks to their coaches from the Philadelphia Flying Phoenix.
“We pulled together to become a team to be able to paddle for them and paddle through adversity,” said Heberley.
With seven less paddlers, and just 17 in each boat, they have more work to do.
“We are going to be trying harder to be faster,” said Idrisse Wa-Mwmze, an 8th grader at Lingelbach.
But they’ll do it together, shoulder to shoulder, paddle to paddle, for a win.