This particular piece highlights one of the rowing communities’ most important families: the USRowing Referee Corp. A tight-knit force that keeps us safe on and off the water,  Row for the Cure  and USRowing, are proud to bring this inspiring story to the forefront that shows us the significant role rowing can play in battling this disease – for the body and soul.

“To love rowing is to be a member of the USRowing referee corp,” said Sarah McAuliffe, USRowing Senior Events Manager. “This community exemplifies the very best the rowing community has to offer. Their perseverance and love for their sport, helps create some of our favorite and most meaningful events of the racing season. We are proud to amplify their voice and champion volunteering on and off the water.”

A member of ZLAC Rowing Club and San Diego Rowing Club, Mary Bush has been at the heart of Row for the Cure since its inception over two decades ago.

“In the mid-90s, my friend Kathy Frederick founded the Row for the Cure as a regatta to run along the Portland waterfront the same day and time as the Komen Race for the Cure. In Portland, my involvement was as a participant, rower, fundraiser, and volunteer organizer,” said Bush. “Fun fact, we used to get the Komen Race for the Cure shirts for the run/walk and iron on a “Row for the Cure” crest on the sleeve for our participants and volunteers, all approved, of course!”

The sport of rowing is in her blood. Bush’s mother and grandmother were also members at ZLAC back in the day, giving her a clear and robust understanding of what the rowing community is capable of. So when Duke Robinson asked her to volunteer at regattas before officially joining the referee corps, it seemed a natural fit. Since joining, Bush has officiated countless regattas, including the San Diego Crew Classic, NCAA Championships, U.S. National Trials, and served as a National Technical Official at the World Rowing Championships. Whether on the water or volunteering on land, it all comes back to one thing — family.

“The rowing community is family. We expect the best of each other and support each other when we aren’t at our best. The only way to move forward is when we work together,” Bush said.

“When I moved back to San Diego in 2000, I partnered with my friend Pattie Pinkerton, the head coach at UCSD at the time, where she took the lead in establishing the Row for the Cure in San Diego,” Bush said. “I served as a volunteer and then as a referee with an occasional opportunity to participate and Row! I was the Chief Judge at the finish for about 15 years.”

At ZLAC, the team embraced the cause, showing its presence in volunteering, enthusiastic participation, and topping the fundraising list each year!

“Over the years, almost every one of us has been impacted by breast cancer, so we honor our survivors and keep in memory those we have lost to breast cancer,” Bush said. “Kathy retired as president from Row for the Cure recently but is still actively involved, and I hope we can continue her legacy for many, many years to come. Pattie recently moved to Sacramento, where she has regained her joy for getting back in the boat. ZLAC continues to charge the lead in positive energy on and off the water in participation and fundraising. All incredible people doing great things for a great cause.”

Written with love by RFTC Board Member Sarah Marshall

Throughout October, Row for the Cure and its partners are encouraging the rowing community to engage in the fight against Breast Cancer by participating in the #PinktheBoathouse Challenge.