As published via Huffington Post on June 13, 2012
Lewis Colam has completed his inspiring 1,400 mile rowing trip along the Eastern seaboard of the United States. The Brit left Miami 101 days ago, and landed aside the USS Intrepid (and the Enterprise!) Tuesday in New York City.
The novice rower traveled alone and without navigation, raising funds along the way for Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. Strangers often offered him a place to stay the night, but for the majority of the adventure, Colam’s 15-foot boat was also his bed.
It was a harrowing journey at times. He was almost run over by a tanker in Florida, was nearly capsized by manatees, got lost in the labyrinthine island waterways off Georgia, battled raccoons and mosquitoes, and capsized in the Chesapeake. By the time he reached Staten Island Monday, before his final push into Manhattan, he was exhausted.
But ask Lewis, and he’ll tell you it was all worth it. If not for the beautiful American landscapes he witnessed, or the tremendous hospitality he received, then because he’s raised, as of this writing, $28,615 for Alzheimer’s research.
“It’s a very sad, very tragic disease,” Colam, who saw the effects of the illness on his friend’s grandmother, told The Huffington Post.
Asked why he decided to row in America instead of his native England, Colam quipped that England’s “too cold,” before giving a more genuine response. “America truly is the land of possibility,” he said. “And the people here have been hugely receptive to someone trying something new.” In England, he said, even his friends and family laughed at his idea.
So receptive were people to Colam’s idea, in fact, that he often found himself staying in their homes. In Savannah, Georgia, he stayed with none other than Paula Deen — a celebrity with whom our humble Brit was not familiar. Deen’s husband, tugboat captain Michael Groover, heard of Colam’s mission and called with an offer to feed him “well.” The three dined at Deen’s own restaurant in Savannah and Colam said it was the “best meal of my life.”
When Colam finally landed in New York Tuesday, he was greeted by friends, family and press. Rowing from Staten Island to Manhattan, it was the first time he’d seen the Statue of Liberty.