For the Love of ROW

Hot off the press, here is the February 2022 Recovery on Water Newsletter.

Hello ROW friends and supporters. Today we’re sharing a real-life story from a long-time ROW team member, JoAnn Baldwin-Glenn.

Who would have thought a simple conversation between two women out walking their dogs could have such a life altering effect?

7 years ago, in early March 2015, I was taking our dog Bleu for a morning walk through our then-neighborhood in Kenwood/Hyde Park and realized that while the sun was beautiful, it wasn’t quite as warm as I’d expected when I left the apartment and I hadn’t worn enough layers. I ran into a fellow dog walker during our walk, someone I had spoken to previously, but nothing deep, and wouldn’t you know it, she was wearing a bright blue beanie, matching gloves, and a warm jacket complete with a ROW logo. I was envious! When I mentioned just how envious I was of her jacket, she smiled and said that she belonged to a rowing team and the jacket was a team jacket. 

Interesting. She was close to my age and I had never known anyone before who rowed, so I started asking questions. As a water baby, who has played in the water all of my life, including coaching swimming and sailing the Chicago to Mackinac sailboat race, I was very intrigued to hear that this woman rowed with a team of other women–some were even going to row in a special St. Patrick’s Day event–and that she had NOT rowed when she was younger. I was looking for something new to try…

However, there was a caveat. Joan told me that while ROW was a great team, the entry was a little steep: I had to have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  As luck would have it, I had been diagnosed a little over 3 years prior, in December 2011, and those first 3 years after my cancer diagnosis were some of the loneliest of my life. Little did I know what I was getting myself into when I literally raised my hand that March morning and told Joan that I was a survivor! 

I attended my first erg practice a week later and was hooked. Leading up to that practice I had been looking for support to help me deal with my breast cancer survivorship, people that I could bond with, and exercise, but had found my options ‘too little’ or ‘too big’ and nothing ‘just right’.  I wanted a breast cancer support group that ‘moved’ and an athletic endeavor that offered both emotional and social support on my cancer journey, but I hadn’t been able to find the right mix. Attending that practice and jumping into my Novice year with ROW, where I learned a new sport, bonded with amazing teammates, and was supported by awesome coaches, I realized that I had found my just right.

Writer Suleika Jaouad recently discussed the importance of community and how while there are definitely individual roots to one’s resilience, an equally crucial component is having a strong community backing you up. Being a part of this special ROW community has truly added so much to my world and I will be forever grateful.  

During this special milestone year for ROW, Recovery on Water’s 15th Year, what is your ROW story?

2 thoughts on “For the Love of ROW

    • Me, too!!!! No River this year, but we will be doing the same virtual ‘trip’ we did last year next Sunday. Should be fun! I’ll send details this week. This year we are traveling from Ireland to Chicago.


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