In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Long Beach Public Schools athletic department was especially hard-hit, losing five of its six gymnasiums, as well as equipment and uniforms for most of its athletic teams. The seaside district located on the south shore of Long Island recently received welcome relief from an organization in another seaside community on the island’s north shore. Friends of Port Rowing, a rowing club based out of Port Washington, raised $10,000 to help the district’s athletic department on the road to recovery.
Friends of Port Rowing is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 to give boys and girls in grades 7-12 the opportunity to participate in competitive rowing. Since its inception, the organization has also had a secondary mission of service to its community. In their founding year, crewmembers participated in an ergathon — the rowing equivalent of a walkathon — to raise money to buy their own boats. Last year, they initiated a “Row for Autism” regatta. This year, after witnessing the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, they were inspired to put their rowing talents to work to help Long Beach athletes. Approximately 75 crewmembers and 20 adults participated in an ergathon, rowing a combined total of 1 million meters (approximately 621 miles) in the course of the seven-and-a-half-hour event.
Friends of Port Rowing made its connection with Long Beach Public Schools through Port Washington School District’s Director of Athletics Stephanie Joannon and Board of Education President Karen Sloan, who is also a Friends of Port Rowing board member. Joannon, who had been in touch with Long Beach Athletic Director Arnold Epstein, heard firsthand from him about the losses his teams had sustained. Having worked so hard to raise money for their own equipment, Friends of Port team members — many of whom are students in the Port Washington School District — were especially touched to hear about the Long Beach students’ overwhelming loss.