Head of the Charles rowers compete against cancer

By Jordan Pagkalinawan, Samantha Spound and Junru Tao, WEBN Reporters

“We are an organization that brings cancer survivors into the sport of rowing,” Rowing Cares President Beth Kohl said. “There’s so many benefits, from exercise to emotional healing [and] socialization.”

Rowing Cares’ website outlined their mission: “to grow Survivor Rowing and put more cancer survivors into boats and on ergs. We do this by strengthening existing survivor rowing programs through collaboration and by enabling rowing organizations looking to form new programs.”

Rowing Cares has raised nearly $4 million for community cancer organizations and survivor rowing programs, supporting people affected by all types of cancer.

Two of the Survivors’ Rowing Network’s athletes, Dee Marrara and Christine Robinson, reflected on the lessons they’ve learned and what this event means to them.

“It means that I’m standing for women that can’t be here,” Robinson said, getting emotional. “So other people know that they can do positive things and make a positive impact on their life, and a good outlook will get you there.”

Despite losing 50 pounds and being “in and out of the hospital” during her cancer treatment, Marera says that joining the team has been vital to rebuilding her athletic identity. 

“I’ve learned that I can do anything with the plan and with support,” Marera shared. “Even at 60 years old, I can do whatever I put my mind to.” After months of preparation, Marera is excited to take to the water with her team at the premier rowing event.

With each stroke and race, these athletes indeed demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit. They serve as inspirations that, with courage and perseverance, survivors can thrive.

The Survivors Rowing Network will be competing in the Grand Masters Eights and Fours races tomorrow, Oct. 21.