Today I took in the collection of donations that I received since I began my Row For Blood campaign to my charity of choice: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Individual donations send directly to me, sent via my GoFundMe page, and collected from a few small business sponsorship contributions total more than $8500. Combine that with the donations from my Light The Night fundraiser and we’ve got nearly $10,000.
These donations are being sent to LLSC in my dad’s honour, Don Robbins, who died from leukemia last June. The majority of these contributions came in after his passing. In his advance directive, my dad requested that people give to “Row For Blood” in lieu of flowers (among other possible charities). This touched me deeply. Friends, family, and community responded with great generosity.
The initial intention for the Row For Blood campaign fundraising was to fund my ocean row and raise even more money (and awareness) in the process, first to The Canadian Blood Services, and later to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Over this 18 month campaign I found myself unable to find a way to fund the entire ocean row – a costly endeavour. And so I’ve suspended the campaign, and thus the row, and will be wrapping up the Row For Blood portion of the project.
The ocean row dream is alive and well. I am choosing to believe that I couldn’t get the sponsorship needed because of my own lack of ability rather than a certain level of impossibility to do so in this economy, or country, or climate. That way, I can always improve myself and my abilities and the future will certainly provide opportunities to make this dream come true.
This campaign was important to me in my process of coping with the sad reality of terminal illness and the loss of a parent. When dad was alive, he was excited for me, engaged in the process, definitely worried, but interested. When the ocean row was pushed further down the timeline and dad’s condition worsened it was clear that shift would soon turn to grief.
Not feeling entirely confident in my marketing and networking ability to attract sponsors I turned my focus towards physical endurance and set out to train myself to achieve a record breaking rowing machine challenge. After 6 months of training, building up from 1 hour of rowing, I reached the world record achievement of 26 hours of continual rowing under the watchful eye of Vancouver International Boat Show attendees, press coverage, and the support of my friends and family. This was my way of proving to myself that as a non-athlete I could still achieve great athletic feats with enough determination and focus. This, I felt, would surely serve me well as I moved towards the ultimate goal of rowing myself across a vast ocean.
And so I’ve achieved a world record, raised nearly $10,000 for charity in my dad’s honour, and although I’m still working on that dream to row across the ocean, the campaign, Row For Blood, is complete. When I do eventually get out there in the middle of the ocean, my dad’s spirit will certainly be with me. He is with me now and always will be. But, the process of running a campaign, raising money for a charity that represents his terminal illness, and highlighting this as my inspiration, that process is ending now.
Grief must have its own cycle of being. I’m ready to let this portion of that cycle come to a close. And so I thank you all for supporting me so whole heartedly. I thank you for your contributions of money and time and love and kindness. As I continue with my physical training, information gathering, sponsorship research and networking I am keeping the dream alive. I patiently await the time when my opportunity to reach that goal arrives. Watch this space. It’s not over yet.
To donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada in honour of Don Robbins and “Row For Blood”, click HERE to go to the page setup for all last-minute contribution. Thank you.