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A Thank You to the Rowing Community
June 13, 2012
As the President of the Worcester Public Schools Crew Booster Club, I am proud of the unified spirit displayed by our Worcester crew members and humbled by the generosity of the rowing community. Last month, on the return trip home from a regatta on Cape Cod, we had the unfortunate experience of damaging six of our shells, two of them beyond repair. Luckily, there were no injuries or damage to other property. With the U.S. Rowing Northeast Junior District Championship and Mass Public High School State Championship coming up within the next few weeks, we were devastated.
Our accident occurred on a Sunday, and by Monday, the word had gotten out, and some of the local teams from high schools and colleges contacted us to see if they could help us to finish our season. Our story spread like wildfire! The local newspaper, TV and radio stations were all reporting the story of our team and our loss. USRowing and Row2k published articles about us! Crews from all over the northeast offered to lend us equipment. We received letters and emails from around the United States and as far away as Germany, Africa, and Pakistan. But most shocking of all - competitors were holding fundraisers for us. I had to wonder, what’s going on here?
What was going on was a terrific example of our rowing community at its best. They understood our situation, the desperation of our students, and the challenges in front of us. And they wanted to help! I must say that this compassion deeply moved me.
Our athletes finished the season with no worry of equipment problems, the shells that can be repaired will be repaired and ready for next season, all thanks to the generosity of past and present rowers, their family, friends, and coaches who offered to help us. We taught our kids to row, and you taught them compassion and the sense of community. These are true life lessons. As we continue to raise money to replace the shells that were not repairable, I want to express my deep gratitude to our colleagues and competitors who reached out to help on our behalf.
The Worcester Public School system is an urban school system with a population of 24,000 students. Approximately 75% of these students are on free or reduced lunch programs. Our sports teams, including rowing, charge no mandatory fee. The result for us is that we compete in older boats – sometimes with tremendous success. Our mission is to get the kids on the water and allow them to experience this great sport. As one of the few urban districts with a rowing team we explore ways to make WPS the preferred educational opportunity for students and families.
On behalf of the Worcester Public Schools, our coaches, athletes, and parents, I want to express my most sincere gratitude. I am truly humbled by the sense of community that you have shown.
President WPHS Crew Booster Club
P.S. At our season ending regatta, the Massachusetts Public School Rowing Association Championship, our crew received 2 gold metals and 1 bronze metal, all in borrowed shells.
Larry Johnson, President WPHS Crew Booster Club