The Western Reserve Rowing Association has created its first program for veterans, and members on Friday christened a boat “U.S. Armed Forces” in their honor.

About 30 veterans, military spouses, rowers and Gold Star families attended the ceremony at the Cleveland Rowing Foundation. Association board member Kerry Watterson, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, gave a toast and blessing. Afterward, the team got out on the water for the first time.

“The history of ship christening ceremonies dates back thousands of years, when the Greeks, Romans, and Vikings sought the favor of the gods to protect their ships and crews from perilous seas,” Rowing Association President Victoria Anders said in her speech.
The Rowing Association includes nearly 500 Northeast Ohioans in all levels, from novice to nationally competitive masters rowers.

This year, it’s offering two new programs:

Veterans Rowing League: a 15-week program that teaches the basics of sweep rowing in a coed team setting for those interested in a fun and challenging training program with the goal of competing at appropriate levels as skills progress in an eight-person boat. Participants start by learning the basics of the rowing stroke and join experienced military and veteran rowers as confidence and capabilities improve. The program is open to BK (below-the-knee) amputees given the nature of the program. Active duty service members, National Guard and Reservists, veterans and Gold Star adult family members may participate, and a military discount is available.

Pararowing: A rowing, or sculling, program developed for military and non-military participants with disabilities and includes indoor and on-water rowing for fitness, competing, and recreation in sculling boats meant for one or two rowers. Experienced staff and volunteers adjust the equipment for each boat so the capabilities of each participant are maximized. Coaching is provided both on and off the water, and each participant is monitored on the water by a coach in a motorized boat. Adaptations to equipment are made for disabilities, such as: BK (below-the-knee), AK (above-the-knee) amputees.

“We are very excited for this new initiative and we are confident it will be a success with our knowledgeable membership. Donations and community support are an important aspect of any new action like this,” said Megan O’Donnell Patton, director of community engagement and development, Western Reserve Rowing Association.

Read more about Megan.