Raft for the Cure

Water adventure company plans fundraising river float

Who says tough guys don’t wear pink?

For one weekend this month, the entire river-riding crew of ROW Adventures will don aquatic blue T-shirts with pink and white logos on all their white-water trips. What’s the reason behind the one-day dress code?

The shirts will be specially printed for the Coeur d’Alene-based adventure travel company’s first Raft for the Cure breast cancer awareness fundraiser, taking place Aug. 10 to benefit the local affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the world’s largest and most progressive grass-roots network of breast cancer survivors and activists. While all river guides will wear the breast cancer awareness shirt, which ROW founder Peter Grubb said is to stimulate discussion on the issue, the river-bound event is centered on the 12-mile float open to 100 participants, with half of the proceeds from each $100 ticket going toward the breast cancer foundation’s Coeur d’Alene branch.

“I’ve wanted to organize an event like this for a while,” said Grubb, whose ROW Adventures company provides water-based adventures around the world, from white-water rafting in Idaho and yachting in Croatia; to barging in France and exploring the Galapagos Islands. In a press release about the event, he added, “It’s an opportunity to float a beautiful stretch of river with friends and family, knowing that half the trip price will help fight breast cancer in our local communities. I’m happy to support this cause and look forward to making this rafting trip an annual event.”

With the goal of raising more than $5,000, that money will go a long way toward raising awareness and providing screenings for early detection, said Heather Bolster, a board member for Susan G. Komen. “They were kind enough to choose our organization to help. The fact that they want to donate 50 percent of the proceeds is phenomenal, that’s a lot of money that will go toward a really good cause.”

And since three-quarters of all donations stay in the area, with the other 25 percent sent to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Dallas headquarters to fund research and other projects, local organizations such as Panhandle Health District and Benewah Wellness Center will get a big boost in their efforts to fight breast cancer.

“Basically what we do is we help fund screening and education for uninsured and underinsured women in the area,” Bolster explained. “Education is the most important thing, and early detection is the key to saving lives.”

Like many people, ROW’s founder has been personally affected by the disease, as a member of his extended family was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although the rafting company has hosted other fundraisers in the past for environmental causes and river clean-ups, the Raft for the Cure-Coeur d’Alene idea was sparked several years ago when Grubb learned that a close friend’s wife had been fighting the disease.

Earlier this year the idea became a reality when, at an annual Rafting America convention featuring rafting companies from across the country in noncompetitive areas, Grubb said in a recent interview, “We talked about, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we all did a Raft for the Cure in our respective areas?’ ”

From that was born the family friendly, fundraising float trip down the Alberton Gorge canyon on Montana’s Clark Fork River. Four other rafting companies, including the Moab Adventure Center, have agreed to host their own annual breast cancer awareness fundraiser.

The Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork is an easy to intermediate stretch of river, Grubb said, and is a great introduction to white-water rafting and an excellent family day trip (ages 5 and up). “I think it will get a lot of support,” he said. “The idea of planning something really fun and being able to support something is great.”

ROW Adventures will provide all necessary gear, professional whitewater rafting guides, riverside lunch, transportation to and from the river from Superior, Mont., and an event T-shirt for all participants.

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