The Rower is just me, Owen Gray, a solo category entrant. I have always enjoyed endurance events, not only as a way to manage the stress of being a partner at Novogradac & Company LLP (a public accounting firm) but also for personal discovery – What am I capable of? This has led me to completing multiple half-ironman and full Ironman events; endurance bicycle rides such as the Death Ride, Davis Double, Seattle to Portland and endurance open water swims including 20 Alcatraz crossings, 5 Coves of Death and Pt. Bonita to SF. But as crazy as it may sound, I have no rowing background. I know - who attempts to row the Atlantic without a rowing background?
At 55, I am at the point in my life where I want to try to repay a small part of the blessings I have had in my life.
I chose Okizu as my charity to support as they do amazing work and childhood cancer sucks! In 1996, my mother at 51 yrs old passed away in Ireland from non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My mother was very fortunate to have her siblings and extended family spend time visiting her in the hospital. I couldn’t help but notice other patients whose families were not able to provide similar support. Through an introduction from Barbara Novogradac, I began volunteering at the UCSF Pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. It was through this, that I learned about Okizu and their summer camp. I served as a camp counselor for two summers in their SIBs camp and my wife and I have been counselors at Family Camp. While it is heart breaking to see kids and their families deal with childhood cancer, it is also inspiring. The strength that these kids demonstrate in the face of such adversity is amazing – they are true little warriors. I will seek to channel their strength as I face the adversities of the row but these will pale in comparison to what these kids are forced to handle.
There are many unknowns that will only be answered by actually doing the row such as how will I handle the seasickness or the emotional aspect of being alone on a 24 foot boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for up to 90 days. But perhaps the biggest unknown is how will my shoulder fare. I was in a seemingly innocent cruiser bicycle accident 5 years ago. But that innocent accident resulted in me now being the owner of a left shoulder prosthesis courtesy of Dr. James Kelly. I have learned that there are no assurances in life and it can change in the blink of eye. I chose to act now while I can.