Seattle Won’t “Way Nuff” til We Find a Cure

As Trista Becker and her teammate Celine got ready for her first-ever Seattle Row for the Cure costume contest, she thought she had never seen so many pink flamingos in her life. White tights with pink hearts, pink glasses, headbands, and blow-up flamingos covering the boat, the duo were ready to hit the water. Rowing for Sammamish Rowing Club, the pair had been through a lot in the past year
Pink Erg Seattle Prep

Trista, diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2018, started treatment right after regionals. Celine had been through it all with her, through good days and bad, through chemotherapy treatments; all while training for World Rowing Masters Championship. Now, in the fall, the pair were back in the boat together, doing what they loved.

“The event is an emotional rollercoaster,” said Becker. “The outpouring of support from my team rallying around me, and the focus on being there for the other people who have been through something like this and me. Having the commonality of bringing everyone together for a common cause. It’s a powerful thing.”

In a testament to the resilience, tenacity, and kindness to the rowing community, The Seattle Row for the Cure event finally Tristaboatsurpassed the one million dollars raised for Komen Puget Sound in 2018. These funds will support local education, free screenings, follow-up treatments, spreading awareness in our region, and cutting edge research.

“The community was overjoyed to exceed one million in donations as of this year,” said  Julia Francis, Seattle Row for the Cure Committee Chair. “This fight is not a sprint, we are in for the long race, with nearly 20 years hosting Row For The Cure in Seattle. To hit this milestone is something that everyone can be proud of as it took so many to get us where we are today.”

The event, gathering over 25 clubs covering as far south as California and as far north as British Colombia, represents a powerhouse of rowers, both on and off the water. A #PNW community that has an enormous heart, a passion for the cure, and a generosity that continues to amaze supporters throughout the region. Their plans for 2019? Blow 2018 out of the water.Seattle

“Of course, we would like to exceed last year’s donation direct to Komen of $126k and reach beyond it. With our strength and determination and the generosity of so many, we will.”

The event, which takes place before the fall head racing season serves as an opportunity to bolster the community around a greater cause and get racers excited to compete.

Through two distinct programs, the Seattle RFTC team raises a significant dollar amount with sheer community involvement. The DAMPER (Donating a Mammogram per Every Rower) challenges 1,000 rowers to raise $150 each to support the cost of a mammogram for 1,000 individuals – with a single goal to save lives.

“Mammograms save lives. It’s that simple. How many life-threatening illnesses do you know that can be prevented with only $150? When we started this, our average donations went from about $35 a person to $118.”

The Pink Erg Challenge, another fundraising activity and partnered with Gerber Collision,  is as impressive as it sounds (and makes for amazing Instagram pictures too). Masters and juniors compete each year, working to reach their fundraising goal of $10,000 and $8,000, respectively, to win their pink painted erg. In 2018, five teams reached their goals to earn their ergs.

“Rowers are not only resilient, but they are also competitive. By adding a goal of saving a life with a mammogram or competing as a team to fundraise for the erg, individuals and clubs can have a sense of ownership and pride in what they have accomplished. Additionally, many of our clubs have breast cancer survivors or patients currently in treatment that are members of their boathouse. They are not only fighting for family and loved ones, but the spirit of the event changes significantly for these clubs that have a fellow rower impacted.”2018 Team Awarding Check to Komen

With the inspiration of Portland, Oregon rower Kathy Frederick, the first Row for the Cure® took place in 1993 on Portland’s Willamette River as a way for the rowing community to support runners and walkers participating in the Rose City’s Race for the Cure®. That first regatta raised a modest $1,500. In 2011, Row for the Cure incorporated as Rowing Cares and officially became a national 501(c)3 nonprofit. To date, Row for the Cure has raised over $2.7 million for Susan G. Komen affiliates, supporting the Komen mission:  “Save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer”

The 2019 Seattle Row for the Cure event is scheduled for September 15, 2019. For more information please visit seattlerowforthecure.org.  Row for the Cure welcomes anyone interested in hosting or sponsoring an event or joining our campaign- Pink the Boathouse, which engages the national rowing community in support of our efforts to end cancer once and for all.  Please contact Beth Kohl, president@rowforthecure.org.

By: Sarah Marshall