In her own words –
“After learning that exercise can reduce cancer recurrence for breast cancer survivors by up to 50%, I founded Recovery on Water (ROW), a rowing team for patients and survivors of breast cancer in 2007.
ROW started as a volunteer effort and became an incredible passion in my life. The women on our team are strong, resilient and fierce. After being immersed in the team’s energy, in 2010 I decided to take on a challenge of my own and row the 1,500 mile perimeter of Lake Michigan. After two years of training and preparing, I started my journey in the summer of 2012. After 59 days at sea, and despite a variety of set-backs, I finished my row and raised over $150,000 for the organization. With those funds we bought our first boats and created sustainability for a team that could grow and thrive.
ROW now serves nearly 100 women a year in Chicago with regular year round exercise, 7 days a week and in 3 locations. During the spring summer and fall our boats continue to row on the Chicago River and our indoor programs take place in Bridgeport, West Town and Wilmette. In 2018 we launched Power10 Camp, a 4 day rowing camp open to survivors from all over the country, inspiring women outside of Chicago to get active after their diagnosis.
Rowing and this team have given me so much, and for all the years I’ve led this organization I continue to learn and grow each day. Arguably life’s most important lessons can be learned in a boat. The movement itself requires focus, patience, and determination because while it is a repetitive movement, rowing demands a technical finesse that cannot be achieved or compensated by sheer strength or brute force. We must be coachable, willing to accept feedback, and be patient and compassionate with ourselves in the process. The good news is that if you mess up on one stroke, in any given practice you have hundreds of opportunities to pick yourself up and try again, take more strokes and improve.
In the boat you must follow the leader and save your criticism for yourself. Following the leader in a rowing shell is tough, especially since everyone is rowing backwards and the leader is usually a small, bossy person who is the only one who can see where the boat is supposed to go. Trusting the process, your teammates, and focusing in on what you can control and contribute is key. We all know that in life it can be tempting to point fingers instead of looking in the mirror. Rowing demands our best.
The best part is when we swing together and work together, the boat gets “run” and glides along the water, all together as one. It isn’t easy to maintain, but we can’t let up because of the people in front of and behind you. In life and in rowing, we can go faster and further together than we ever could alone.”
Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***