Community Stories

Honoring a legacy of leadership: the CYC dragon boat tribute at the CA Youth Dragon Boat Race

The shores of Lake Merced buzzed with excitement on April 28th, as the CYC community gathered to participate in the CA Youth Dragon Boat Race, an event celebrating teamwork, resilience, and cultural heritage. This year, the race held deeper meaning for CYC, as it honored the memory of Brendan Lam, a beloved coach and mentor who passed away this year and whose impact continues to echo within our youth programs, and throughout the community.

The CYC dragon boat program represents more than just a sporting activity; it embodies the values we cherish. By providing a platform for all youth, regardless of their school affiliation, CYC’s dragon boat team promotes inclusivity and diversity, reflecting the rich cultural tapestry of San Francisco. This program is not only about competition but also about fostering leadership, building community, and celebrating cultural pride, which are integral to our mission.

This year, the dragon boat race included a special heat dedicated to Brendan Lam, who joined CYC as a high school student in 2004 and later became a coach, devoting four years to mentoring young paddlers. His passion for the sport and his commitment to youth development made him a pivotal figure in the dragon boat community. To commemorate Brendan’s legacy, former teammates and new paddlers came together in a poignant tribute, with sixty youth and former youth participating in a heat specifically to honor his memory. In recognition of their good friend and mentor, CYC youth renamed their boats “Coach Brendan Lam” and “B Lam.” 

And… they won, in a great victory that was emblematic of Brendan’s enduring spirit. 

The race not only celebrated the life of one of our own but also showcased the unity and spirit of the CYC family more broadly, and underscored the importance of community and the impact of mentorship.

We carry with us the legacy of leaders like Brendan Lam, who exemplify the best of what we strive to achieve. And we celebrate our youth—winners and leaders—who overcame sadness to create something personal, memorable, and empowering.