“Freedom Rows Gave Me My Independence” – A Letter from Gail Francisco

Freedom Rows at Delta Sculling Center changed my world. I would never have thought that I would ever end up sculling. I always thought that only very wealthy people scull and saw it as inaccessible to me.

By chance, I came across a Delta Sculling Center postcard promoting the Freedom Rows February erg challenge. It seemed interesting. I called the number and spoke to the program director, Pat Tirone, who was so encouraging and positive that it made me want to come out and try rowing. Impressed by the training provided by volunteers there to help us veterans, I learned how to properly and efficiently use the rowing machine. Everyone was so encouraging.

Volunteer coaches spent their time bringing me out on the water in a double, making sure I got comfortable on the water. It was confusing and hard at first, but I received continual encouragement and support and I improved. Eventually, I graduated to sculling in a single on my own.

Being on the water, on the Delta, in the morning quietness of nature is simply amazing. I love the camaraderie Freedom Rows encourages with other veterans, yet at the same time, provides me with independence in my own boat. It gave me the best of both worlds. This is what is so wonderful about this sport; you can participate in it as a team, as an individual or both. When we were practicing in quads, it was an amazing feeling when everyone would pull together and make the boat move powerfully and gracefully. Competing in regattas is fun, and the good-natured competition is a reminder of the competitions we would have in the Army.

I am grateful to Freedom Rows for the grants that bought boats, oars and a trailer for Delta Sculling Center, so that I, as well as other veterans, can participate in this sport. This sport changed my life and gave me the opportunity to have a full body workout without hurting my body.

– Gail Francisco
Freedom Rows Athlete – Delta Sculling Center

To support Freedom Rows programs like Delta Sculling Center across the country, click here to participate in our RallyMe end-of-year fundraiser. You can even support by purchasing a lifetime membership and gifting it to someone over the holidays!

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