FINDING OUR HEART
The Stowaway Club
From the start, the Atlantic Discovery team impressed me with their commitment to building relationships with everyone involved in their 3,000 mile row. They wanted to create a community of supporters: somewhere to show their gratitude and share regular inside-story updates on their progress.
I thought this was a remarkable concept, which reflects the team ethos perfectly: Isaac stands out for his genuine kindness, his thoughtfulness and constant consideration, Jack is the flirtatious charmer - a showman-bot, Ben is the rock-solid-heart-of-gold guy and Cam, well, take it from me, he is fun, irresistible and one of the most generous people I've ever met (yeah, yeah I know he's my brother!). But still.
So we set up the Stowaway Club. It's a FaceBook group and, thanks to your wonderful enthusiasm for this epic adventure, and our charities, the membership is growing day-by-day.
The Stowaway Club has turned out to be the heart and soul of our project.
The Feel Good Factor
I have been blown away by the number of hands that have stretched out to help us, but more than that, by their actions. By how they've taken time out of their busy lives to care. I've seen a side of human beings that is awe-inspiring. Uplifting. Extra. It's just so exciting! And it makes me, and the boys, feel so good.
People are giving freely to support the team and our chosen MS charities, thank you, accompanied with heartwarming, inspirational messages. But, they're also finding unique and special ways to add more value, from all over the globe:
- Joe Hard in New York spent his 53rd birthday fundraising for us - using his extensive network of rowers and friends;
- Amanda Higgins in South Africa has used her nutritional expertise to research high calorie, nutritional foods for the boys and is suggesting some healthy eating options;
- The first four SwissRe stowaways in Zurich bought the team their vital Spinlock life vests - a photograph of this will follow soon.
- Famke van Laren in New Zealand is sending over 10kg of her amazing topnotch macadamia nuts.
- Magdalena Rijk Czaplinski in Zurich has been extremely helpful with suggestions of likely sponsors.
- And, all ages are stepping up to help. Abigail Hay from Scotland visited us this week and wowed us with her ace cataloguing skillz! Together with Amelia and Ryan, they worked through over 1,000 sachets of dried food to help out their heroes.
The ripple effect
All this generosity is having a phenomenal effect on the team. We set up the Stowaway Club to thank people and, instead, the members make us feel on top of the world. Ben, Isaac, Cam, Jack (and me) are going to finish this challenge having learned first hand the incredible power of a caring hand offered in help.
This adventure is making us all more humble, gracious and thoughtful. It is making us better human beings. And, I know, that one day in the future, when our turns come, this experience will make us stretch out our hands, and step forward to help, without a second thought.
Watch this space @virtualstowaway Penny Bird is a professional photographer and writer documenting Atlantic Discovery's incredible journey.
When Atlantic Discovery's ocean rowing boat Ellida sets off from La Gomera to cross the Atlantic, she will be carrying my heart, and many of yours, as stowaways, on an incredible adventure. If you'd like to be part of our story, become a Stowaway today!