(Editor’s Note: A similar version of this article was originally published by the University of Oklahoma.)
A University of Oklahoma alumnus/U.S. Marine Corps veteran teamed up with three other U.S. armed forces veterans on a daring rowing challenge across the Atlantic Ocean in December to raise funds for organizations in their home state of Florida targeting veterans struggling with mental health issues.
Paul Lore, who earned his master’s degree in public administration in 2011 from OU, is sharing their story in hopes that news of their involvement in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge—billed as the “World’s Toughest Row”—will inspire members of the OU family—and the public at-large, especially those currently serving or having served in the armed forces—to follow suit by creating their own campaign or aiding an established fundraiser such as this one.
During the race, Lore and his team rowed more than 1.5 million oar strokes. They rowed for two hours, and slept for two hours, constantly, 24 hours a day, in waves measuring up to 20 feet high. Rowers generally burn over 5,000 calories a day, and on average lose over 26 lbs. during the crossing.
“We are embarking on this endurance journey to raise awareness and funds for PTSD and veteran suicide—partnering with organizations that are making a discernible impact in this area,” says Paul, who served as an air traffic controller in the Marines and retired from a 30-year career with the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Every day we’re on the ocean for this unsupported row, we will be pushing for each stroke, for each mile, for each day—we will get up and put in the work to achieve the goal. While this is the hardest endurance challenge the four of us will face, it pales in comparison to what warriors with PTSD face every day.”
The Team and Their Mission
The other members of Paul’s ocean row team were Billy Cimino, Cameron Hansen and A.M. “Hupp” Huppmann, veterans of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy, respectively. Of course, not unlike with any military foray, the FOAR FROM HOME team also included numerous people working behind the scenes. This “army” of supporters included their spouses and a land support team working in areas ranging from boat shipping and equipment logistics to row coaching and media consultant.
Even before the race, the FFH team had exceeded its initial $500,000 goal to benefit their partner organizations—K9’s For Warriors and Cross The Line Foundation. The team coined the phrase “It Takes an Island to Cross an Ocean” early on in their campaign, and their fundraising successes have proven this to be true. The team will continue to push with their fundraising through 2022 by working to fund four more dogs for K9’s for Warriors and four additional scholarships for Cross The Line Foundation, as well as the broader mission of raising awareness of PTSD and other issues plaguing our nation’s warriors.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge
Atlantic Campaigns SL, a Spanish company situated in San Sebastian de La Gomera, has organized the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge since 2012 and overseen seven ocean rows and seven Guinness World Records. Over $7 million has been raised for charities worldwide over the past four races.
This year, the challenge began in early December, in the race village of San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands, and included 30 to 40 row teams from around the world.
The challenge took FOAR FROM HOME and the other rowing teams more than 3,000 miles west to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbor, Antigua—one of the two major islands that comprise the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The rowers battle with sleep deprivation, salt sores and other physical extremes while they work together to ensure they reach their destination safely.