Roses Are Pink, The River Is Too

Every spring, the Sunrise Rotary Club fills the Saugatuck River with plastic yellow ducks. It’s a cute, fun fundraiser.

Well, Diana Kuen thought: If they can do that, what about rose petals?

She is the director and head coach of the Survive-OARS — Saugatuck Rowing Club’s breast cancer survivor rowing program.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink is its symbol — and the color of roses. What better way, Diana asks, to commemorate all of the warriors, past and present, who have been impacted by breast cancer than to turn our river pink?

And at the same time, raise money for charity.

Saugatuck Rowing Club Survive-OARS work out, on a beautiful day.

The 1st annual River of Roses Soiree is set for Saturday, October 5 (4 to 8 p.m., Saugatuck Rowing Club). Proceeds benefit the Saugatuck Survive-OARS program, in partnership with the Smilow Family Breast Health Center at Norwalk Hospital.

The sun sets at 6:30. Right before then, anyone who has purchased a rose petal will be invited to the dock, to help scatter hundreds. The high tide will carry them — biodegradable and freeze-dried — out to Long Island Sound.

The Survive-OARS team will read the names of everyone being honored.

That’s an important ceremony. But the event is also a celebration. Hummock Island will provide oysters — which they’ll shuck right there — plus champagne (sparkling rosé, very fitting) thanks to Chandon California. Cocktails are courtesy of TUCK Gini (named after the SaugaTUCK River), and Blue Ice Vodka.

The rowing club will serve clam chowder, lobster bisque and seasonal soup. Dessert includes apple strudel, and a huge wall donated by Donut Crazy.

Live music is courtesy of Fake ID, while Design Within Reach is loaning patio furniture. Le Boudoir Blow Dry Bar has offered to do ladies’ hair before thee vent.

A few of the rose petals, during a test run in the Saugatuck River.

Diana made sure to get approval for the petals from conservation director Alicia Mozian. A short time after that enthusiastic okay, the Saugatuck River suffered back-to-back sewage leaks.

“Now more than ever,” Diana says, “Westport will appreciate a river filled with beautiful rose petals, packed with powerful antioxidants and antiseptic properties!’

Not to mention, a great cause backed by some wonderful, very courageous women.

(To purchase tickets to the event, and/or rose petals — including those in honor of someone, even if you can’t attend — click here. To volunteer, email

6 responses to “Roses Are Pink, The River Is Too

  1. Thank you Diana for organizing this incredible event honoring and celebrating past and future survive-oars.

  2. So happy to see this! Thank you Dan. As a 2019 Survivor-OAR I have a difficult time explaining what this program has done for me, a two time cancer survivor. After a very bad run with the second occurance 3 years ago, I lost any confidence in the body that betrayed me so terribly. Now, I have an entirely different outlook and am taking back control (take THAT cancer!) Diana, and everyone at SRC who either help, volunteer or encourage have so much to do with this new outlook. I look forward to continuing this journey with the Survive-OARS.

    Thank you!

  3. We are so excited for this event, Dan! The Saugatuck SurviveOARS Crew redefines strength and courage. I’m so blessed to be a part of it and so excited to celebrate! Thank you for sharing! 😆🙏

  4. Victoria Madden

    Dan, Thank you for bring attention to this amazing event! And a huge thank you to Diana, Andy, all the ‘masters’ who have helped us along the way! We could not have come this far without all of you and Saugatuck Rowing Club and Smilow Breast Center!!
    Victoria Madden
    2018 SurviveOAR

  5. Leslie Blake-Hyatt

    Great article, Dan! Thanks so much for reporting this awesome event!! And a million thanks to Diana for all her hard work in planning the River of Roses Soiree and for all she has done to make SurviveOARS such an amazing program. I’m grateful to be a part of it.😊

  6. This program has been a beacon of light during some dark times for me. The support, energy and connection felt and received has at times felt life saving. Many thanks to everyone who has had a hand in creating and sustaining it. Humbled and grateful am I for the hard work and perseverance of Diana, Andy and others who work so hard to keep this program going.