He Did It All for Charity?

Filed under:Priorities,Toys, Adults' — posted by Anwyn on March 30, 2009 @ 8:09 pm

Am I the only one who finds this a bit self-indulgent?

A guy rowed across the Atlantic–successfully–to support cancer research. He hoped to raise $500,000. He’s raised $100,000. But:

He and his sister spent $60,000 of their own savings to have his boat custom built, and he took a leave of absence from his financial services job.

Seems to me if he’d donated the $60,000 plus a percentage of the salary lost during his leave of absence, he could have done as much good as he’s done so far without all the soreness, exposure, and freeze-dried food. But then he wouldn’t have a custom-built boat and the honor of being the third American to row the Atlantic.

Or maybe I’m just a grinch. I guess he could’ve just bought the boat.

Via Instapundit.

Also, maybe I didn’t emphasize this enough–he’s raised $100,000, or only 20 percent of his goal. Which makes him utterly unlike the Canadian mentioned by Janie in the comments, who ran across Canada–a place known to contain people to ask for $1, unlike the Atlantic Ocean–and raised over $24 million even though he was ultimately unsuccessful at running coast to coast due to his own cancer, which took his life soon after. Raise your hand if you believe CNN would have covered this had something happened to prevent Paul Ridley from rowing the whole way across the Atlantic. So, yes, his success at completing the journey has drawn attention and will probably draw funds, but two points: 1) He clearly focused more on buying the boat and getting it and himself ready than on raising funds, and 2) If he had been unsuccessful, he’d still have the boat and the attempt, but probably not nearly as many funds. He took a rather large risk of blowing the whole venture and completely stalling out at $100,000.

I’ll wait and see where his funds totals end up, but I think the comparison with Terry Fox is strained at best.


  1. You’re correct in saying he could have accomplished the same financial outcome from the comfort of his desk, but I wouldn’t deem it self-indulgent. Sure, he can take personal pride in having accomplished such an enormous feat, but his other motivation was to do something in memory of his mother.

    So, no, he didn’t do it *all* for charity but I’m not sure why that matters.

    Comment by Allen — March 30, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  2. Wow. This does make one think.

    I am of a divided mind on this topic, for as you say, it does seem a bit over the top.

    However, I often see many fundraising attempts which become media circuses. Perhaps using the media is just another way to gain awareness of a cause. For, if he had quietly done as you suggest, and donated 60K without the trials of rowing the Atlantic perhaps less people would now be thinking of cancer research.

    So now he can boast to be the third person to row the Atlantic. True, it is a feather in his cap, but the history books will likely also note that he did it for cancer research ensuring that forever his success will be associated with a Cause (yes I meant that to be a capital C).

    Plus, for many people the sacrifice is also part of the donation. He did not suffer from cancer, but he did push himself to supposed self-less acts of sacrifice both financially and physically to support cancer victims. I guess that in itself is a worthy reason.

    Now all this assumes his motives were pure. There is the chance that he did all this with the true motive of gleaning glory or attention for himself. I don’t know the man, and cannot presume to judge. But, if he is going to put up 60K with his money and his sister’s money, give up time from work and the salary he’d normally earn I’m willing to give him some credit. Because, yes, it would have been much easier to quietly make a donation and skip the hard work. Too many people do that these days. They entirely miss out on the spirit of a gesture when they throw money at it with out putting in any effort at all.

    Let’s hope that hard work still builds character, and this man gained more than 100K for cancer. Let’s hope he built awareness and did what he did out of love, honest hard work and spirit.

    Lastly, if you too are struggling with deciding how to feel about this topic of discussion, I want to add something else for you to think about. This post brings to mind the story of Canadian Terry Fox whose humble goal was to run across Canada to raise $1 from each person for cancer research. If you google him you’ll also find some youtube videos of his historic journey and how he became a Canadian hero who raised over 10 million dollars on his Marathon of Hope.

    Maybe our rower just wanted to be another Terry Fox in his own way.

    Comment by Janie Jones — March 31, 2009 @ 9:21 am

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