When Pete Landry walked into Charlotte, North Carolina’s Row House, he was just looking for an inclusive workout. What he got was much, much more. Diagnosed with a degenerative disease called Familial Spastic Paraparesis, a condition characterized by progressive weakness and stiffness of the legs, Landry found an energetic fitness community that didn’t just motivate him but created a community when many were struggling to feel connected in 2020.

“The energy, workout, and friends that I’ve made have me absolutely loving it! It’s such a great community. I am now a part of the ‘morning crew,’ and we like to ‘rib’ one another. We all have our ‘erg’ that we try to be on. It is nice to have that sort of camaraderie.”

When he discovered Row for the Cure and the fundraising opportunity his new hobby could connect him to, Pete was truly inspired. Having just lived through his wife’s diagnosis, his mother’s diagnosis, a family friend and a classmate from high school, Landry had more than enough cause to join in the #PinktheBoathouse Challenge.

“I was able to take something that I am truly enjoying and do some good. It’s a cause that is so important to me, my family, and many friends. It was so fulfilling to be one of the top fundraisers and know that I was rowing to make a positive difference in someone’s life and livelihood!”

“It’s been such an honor to get to know Pete and fully understand his commitment to his own health and the health of others. He’s quite a guy and we look forward to continuing our work together,” said Eliza Sydney, Vice President of Row for the Cure. “Over $52k was raised through the 2020 #PinktheBoathouse Challenge – Pete was the #5 fundraiser (out of 106), raising $1,480. Row House Cotswold Village was the #5 fundraising team (out of 47).  All funds were distributed via grants for local community breast health organizations.“

With so much lived experience, Landry recognized the power that acts of kindness from acquaintances and strangers could have on a family taking on a breast cancer diagnosis.

“It’s a year of your life, and then you get your life back,” commented Landry, whose wife’s treatment plan included extensive chemotherapy, frequent oncologist appointments, and treatments with a cold cap and major surgeries.

“It was hard to experience. The silver lining was that there was a community that came out and supported her that you didn’t know existed. Friends of friends would show up and drive to appointments or bring meals. Basically strangers. Showing up.”

How did Pete and his team celebrate their fundraising success?  A one-on-one meet-and-greet with Team USA two-time Olympian, Tokyo hopeful, Row for the Cure Ambassador, gold-medal-winning Meghan Musnicki. Socially distanced and Zoom-enabled, of course, Pete and the members of Row House Cotswold Village got a virtual tour of the training center, and learned first-hand about training to compete on the World’s greatest sports stage.

“What an honor and pleasure for us “rookie rowers” to have an opportunity to meet a 2-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner! Oh my gosh, how much they eat! It’s astounding,” remarked Landry. “It’s nice to see a human side and to remember that Olympians are real people too, so nice and down to earth. I’m beyond grateful that we had the chance to meet Meghan. She inspires us every day. We can’t wait to watch the team compete in Tokyo.”

Author’s Note:

Some say “Rowers row for Life”.  It’s a sport that once you find it, many stay with it forever.  On March 13, Pete completed 1 million meters on the erg – the first to do so at Row House Cotswold Village. It’s both exciting and inspiring to see him thrive in a rowing community which has both allowed him to overcome his own personal challenges and to find a meaningful way to give back to the cancer community which has touched his heart in so many ways. We look forward to seeing what happens next for Pete.

Written with love by Row for the Cure Board member Sarah Marshall