A New Chapter – Looking Ahead to 2016

Earlier this month, on June 15th, 2015, Don Robbins, my Dad, my inspiration, died. He was a loving, hard-working, humble, and playful man, who will be deeply missed. Luckily, I did get to see him a few days before he died. He was weak and in a lot of pain, but was mentally alert to the end. I was touched to find out that he’d specified “in lieu of flowers” for people to give to Row For Blood. My mom told me that he was very proud of me for taking on this challenge. Since the notice of his passing went out, many family friends and people connected to my dad have generously supported my Row For Blood campaign at GoFundMe and with direct payments to me. These donations are so meaningful at this time. Thank you everyone who has donated in my dad’s honour. I have a feeling that my dad’s spirit will be by my side, keeping me safe, for my entire journey across the ocean.

His health was on a slow but steady decline since 18 months ago when he was given 3 months to one year to live. His illness started out as myelofibrosis and developed into acute leukemia. Blood transfusions had been a part of his life for many years. First, as an occasional need that served to boost his health and energy, then as a weekly ritual that kept him alive for the final year of his life. The charities that a person connects with often stems from a loved one’s struggle with disease. With my dad, his ordeal inspired me to highlight Canadian Blood Services. He also received great care from Cancer Care Manitoba. He wanted that to be known, as well. I chose Canadian Blood Services because, at a basic level, the blood that came from another person’s body, voluntarily given, was keeping my dad alive. It’s an organization that serves the needs of a variety of people. Frequently, it is cancer patients who need blood, as well as many many others. This fundamental care, to receive blood, affects so many and highlighting this system is how I feel I can contribute best.

When I first decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean I chose to enter the 2015 race. At the time, the option was either 2015 or 2017 as they were running the race every two years. I didn’t want to wait until 2017 because I wanted my dad to see my campaign and if I was lucky even see me crossing the ocean. As the 2015 race got closer  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to raise the money needed to get ready in time and so I started to let people know that I am planning for 2016. Since the race organizers decided to run the race every year then the option of 2016 became the perfect timeline for raising the money and getting ready.

I now have 18 months until I launch, but that actually amounts to approximately 12 months of fundraising opportunities – ie. connecting with sponsors. Everything needs to be ready to go between August and October 2016. I’m going to spend the next 2 months on hard-core trial and error. So, One Full Year. That’s the time I have to get ready. I feel confident that I will make all the right connections with businesses and people who want to be part of this journey. I know that I’m going to be on the water, at the starting line in December 2016. I am 100% sure of that. In the meantime I’m excited to test out my sponsor-hunting skills and to watch the 2015 competitors get ready for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2015.  I actually haven’t seen a race live as I hadn’t decided to do this until after their 2013 race. So, watching this year’s race unfold is going to be really great for my preparations and so exciting to see.

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