Approximately 60 people were at the facility in Downtown Toronto to hear from Colin Sanders, who will brave far more treacherous weather and waves when he rows across the Atlantic Ocean by himself on December 1st, 2017.
Sanders and Community Living Ontario unveiled A Million Possibilities: Solo Ocean Row 2017, an awareness and fundraising campaign that will benefit Ontarians who have an intellectual disability and their families.
The 63-year-old Port Hope resident will travel from the Canary Islands to Antigua, roughly 4,000 kilometres or one million oar strokes. Colin’s oldest son Jeff has intellectual and physical disabilities and is supported by a local Community Living organization.
He stressed to people in attendance that, while he will be by himself on the ocean, he will not be alone; he will continue to have people supporting him before and during the Atlantic crossing.
“People with intellectual disabilities supported by Community Living organizations across the province are also not alone. The local Community Livings provide valued supports and services to families like mine. It’s everything from residential support, skills development, job placements to respite and early childhood support – the list is long and it certainly costs a lot of money,” said Sanders.
“The spirit of what Community Living does at the most basic level is to simply help others and, ultimately, that should resonate with every one of us. Because, whether we know of someone with an intellectual disability or not, everyone in this room at some point in their life will need the absolute charity and kindness of someone else. It’s all about attitude and each one of us can do our part by caring about someone else.”
Although he has never rowed before, Colin has been “asking a ship load of questions.” He’s also been training daily and consults regularly with a nutritionist, physician and personal trainer. Navigation and ocean rowing courses have already taken place and additional courses are still to come. He has also sought the help of Levin Brown, one of the world’s most experienced ocean rowers. Brown is coaching and mentoring Colin and will be his shore support when he undertakes his journey.
“So much of this is about preparedness and mitigated risk. There’s no roadmap on how to do this and there’s certainly no how-to books out there; you’ve got to figure it out yourself. I think what I’ve enjoyed is kind of figuring out that puzzle and figuring out those steps that I need to take to get across safely.”
Sanders was joined at yesterday’s launch by the campaign’s honourary co-chairs, Community Living Ontario Director Michael Jacques and former Senior Federal Cabinet Minister John Baird. Also in attendance was John Beeden, who has rowed the Atlantic Ocean and was the first person ever to row the Pacific Ocean solo.
Beeden sold Colin the 21-foot boat he will be calling home for 60 to 90 days later this year. The two-time ocean rower stated that Colin will be one of less than 100 people to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean solo.
A relay race also took place during the campaign kickoff, using stationary rowing machines. The teams were captained by Sanders and Beeden, and included the honourary co-chairs and people supported by Community Living Toronto. Team Sanders was the first to row 1,000 metres, earning themselves bragging rights.
Over the coming weeks and months, people are encouraged to visit OneMillionPossibilities.com and SoloOceanRow2017.com to stay informed of the various events happening in communities across the province and the preparations leading up to Colin’s launch in early December. For photos and video from yesterday’s event, visit A Million Possibilities: Solo Ocean Row 2017 on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to view the media coverage from CTV News Toronto.
Ron Laroche, Community Living Ontario