Row-a-thon raises more than $1,550

24 hours of rowing raises funds for wheelchair for quadriplegic student

Queen’s rowers count down as they pull towards the final hours of their 24-hour row-a-thon in the JDUC.
Queen’s rowers count down as they pull towards the final hours of their 24-hour row-a-thon in the JDUC.
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At about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, two guitar cases full of money sat on the JDUC floor just outside the QP. No music filled the air, however. All there was to be heard was the sound of rowing machines—five ergs, whirring away in sync.

It was a sound that could have been heard since 5 p.m. the previous day as the Queen’s rowing team pulled together and staged a row-a-thon to support a fellow student in need.

Emily Hayter, a Queen’s graduate student in linguistics, was involved in a recreational swimming accident this summer that left her quadriplegic. Hayter has a motorized wheelchair which was largely covered by OHIP, but she has regained some mobility in her arms since the accident and wants a mechanical one as well, which costs approximately $6,000. The rowing team, led by Chris Forstinger, Sci ’07, decided to hold the row-a-thon to raise as much of this sum as possible for her.

At last count, the team had raised more than $1,550 and had yet to tally up the donated tips from the Common Ground. That marks a large increase over the $560 the team raised in a row-a-thon last year for tsunami relief. The vast majority of this amount came from the student body, according to participant Jennifer Broxterman, ArtSci ’07.

“We had one or two corporate donations, but it’s been basically all Queen’s students,” she said. “They’ve been really generous.”

Amidst all the coins in the cases there was an abundance of paper money.

“People have been dropping 20s, 10s and 5s,” she said. “There have been adults stopping and writing us cheques. It’s been a really, really big success.”

“A couple of guys even threw in 50s,” added participant Vanessa Kenalty, ArtSci ’06.

Forstinger said the event’s outcome exceeded his expectations.

“We wanted to raise about $700—that was our goal,” he said. “We blew it away. I was really happy with the way people responded.”

Broxterman also said that the location was key to the large windfall, due to the high volume of foot traffic passing through at all times of day.

“Random people joined in over the course of it,” she said. “The bar traffic [from the QP] was so funny—we showed a few of them how to row, and they were tossing money at us.”

Apart from the impressive amount of money raised towards Hayter’s new wheelchair, the event represented a significant athletic accomplishment. Between 30 and 40 people pitched in to cover 120 combined hours of rowing in a 24-hour period. As such, sleep was at a premium.

“It hasn’t stopped. I slept for two hours last night,” Broxterman said on Saturday afternoon. “[One of our participants] Ryan Gallagher rowed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

this morning.”

Several participants said it was a great way to combine training with charity in the off-season, and that it was a great way to get motivated to row in the winter months.

“We all survived it,” Kenalty said. “It’s a good opportunity for us, because we have to be training anyway, so it makes sense to train for a cause. It makes winter training a bit more fun when you’re outside of the QP at 4 in the morning.”

The team’s coaches brought food to keep the athletes going, and cases of water surrounded the machines. In the final hour, some of the same rowers who began the event 23 hours earlier were back to finish up, including Forstinger.

“I feel it was a huge success,” he said. “I think that the whole rowing team contributed. Everyone on the team is proactive. I have maybe 15 people in mind, and without every one of them it wouldn’t have been a success.”

In the row-a-thon’s final hours, Hayter herself came by to cheer the rowers on to the finish line, and took some time to speak with the Journal.

“It’s amazing. I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “Chris asked me before Christmas if he could do this for me.”

The recovery process has been hard for Hayter, and she said it has kept her away from school thus far.

“It’s a little difficult for me to get out of the hospital, and this is my first trip back to campus since the accident, so it’s a bit emotional,” she said. “I just want to say thanks to all of them.”

Forstinger said he thought Hayter was grateful for their efforts.

“I think that she appreciated it a lot, and I think it’s good that she knows that the whole school is behind her,” he said. “She has a long way to recovery, and the doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to move her head, and now she has movement in her triceps, so I think it’s great for her to have the Queen’s community supporting her.”

Forstinger added he wanted to thank all the people who made the row-a-thon possible, notably Kenalty, Matt Hunter (ArtSci ’06), Steph Floras (ArtSci ’07), Stu Mueller (Sci ’07), Buzzy McCord (PhysEd ’07), and Cam Mackay-Stotesbury (Sci ’09), to whom Forstinger hopes to pass the torch in order to continue the tradition in years to come.

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