Adam Geringer and his friends initially wanted to start a rowing program that was a little closer to home, but it has turned into a partnership that is working to get disabled veterans on the water.
Since November, Adam, a 16-year-old junior at Broughton High School, has spent hundreds of hours assembling the pieces he would need to build a viable youth rowing crew at Lake Crabtree named RDU Crew. By February they were practicing on warm days, then more consistently by March. They almost raced in a regatta this spring, but the boat broke.
Initially the mission was “to bring the sport of rowing to all,” but the focus was on building a youth team, Adam said. But in his quest to build the team, he encountered two organizations struggling to find a rowing crew that would work with them on an endeavor to transform veterans with physical and intellectual challenges to an adaptive rowing team known as Freedom Rows Carolina Comrades.
“We should be on the water by mid-July,” Adam said. “I am ecstatic about this program.”
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When Adam and his friends became discontented with a 30-minute to hour drive to Lake Wheeler, they decided to bring a rowing program closer to home.
“There was way too much passion going to waste,” Adam said, “way too much talent.”
So Adam started looking for opportunities and focused on Lake Crabtree.
For Adam that change meant starting from scratch, filling out paperwork to create a nonprofit, asking his parents to help with acquiring four boats, getting insurance, recruiting rowers and finding coaches.
This spring, Adam learned about a group trying to put together an adaptive rowing program for veterans.
USRowing had received a $250,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to create 10 adaptive rowing programs across the U.S., including Raleigh, said Deb Arenberg, adaptive program development specialist for USRowing.
Arenberg was working with Bridge II Sports, a Durham-based organization that helps individuals with physical challenges to play sports.
The effort is now a collaboration that includes CrossFit Durham providing space for veterans to work on rowing machines every Friday. The next step is for USRowing, Bridge II Sports and Lake Crabtree County Park to build a secure space to store the two rowing boats purchased for the program. Adam, his coaches and a recreational therapist with the VA will work together to get the group of vets on the water.
Currently there are about 15 veterans in the program.
“But we expect that number to double or triple in the next year,” Arenberg said.
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