Taking on The World’s Toughest Row to Honor Samfund Trustee

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Have you ever had a big goal you wanted to accomplish?

For some of us, that might mean climbing a mountain or running a 5K. For others (specifically, two others), it means rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in a race against teams from across the US, the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

In two months, brothers John and Kurt Schwartz will head to La Gomera, Spain, to compete in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, rowing 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Antigua & Barbuda. As team 32° North, they will face exhaustion, isolation, frustration, mind-numbing monotony, and both physical and emotional stress — all while dealing with rationed food and water, potential illness, sleep deprivation and unforeseen obstacles. They’ll be deprived the comforts of their lives on land, the company of friends and family, and probably wonder —  more than once — what they were thinking when they agreed to do this. But right now, they couldn’t be more excited.

Other than the sheer challenge, what is their motivation to embark on such a journey?

14224850_671031599719427_4562868353022438830_nFour years ago, Samfund Board member and friend Jeremy Hill passed away at the age of 43 after a prolonged battle with melanoma. Jeremy also happened to be a mentor and friend to John and Kurt, and they were familiar with his dedication to The Samfund. By taking on this race, they pay tribute to him, his family, his friends, and all of us who have experienced firsthand the impact of cancer.

John says, “Partnering up with The Samfund and supporting what they do day in and day out helping young adults is an honor for us.”


When talking about the pair, our CEO Sam says, “The dedication and commitment John and Kurt have shown in raising awareness for The Samfund in Jeremy’s name is incredible. He was such a special part of our organization, and in the years since his death many of his friends and colleagues have supported our work in his name. When I got a call earlier this year from Kurt and John, and they told me what they had in mind, I was floored. To take on such a challenge, to raise money for the Jeremy Hill Memorial Grant as well as our general grants program, and to honor Jeremy in this unique way is meaningful on so many levels. The impact they will have as a result of this challenge will hopefully make all their aches and pains worthwhile. We couldn’t be more grateful to them.”

She adds, “Jeremy touched the lives of everyone he met through his generosity, spirit and an internal drive to give back to the world. He donated time, money and brilliance to The Samfund because he felt compelled to ease the financial strain of those who had been affected by this disease. He just got it. And we miss him everyday.”

img_0224San Diego natives, both John and Kurt rowed collegiately, but have always been more extreme winter athletes, mountaineering in the Alps and climbing in Southeast Asia. The only American pair in this year’s race, they say that this endeavor is a “chance to support all the great work The Samfund does every day.”

We thank John and Kurt for working to raise awareness of young adult cancer and to raise funds for those who are struggling financially. As one of our recent grant recipients said: “This journey that I was placed on was easier to tackle because I knew that I was not alone.” We hope that John and Kurt know that they too are not alone, and The Samfund family is here to support them every step of the way. (Until they get into the boat. Then they’re on their own.)  

To support Row 32º North in their efforts and support The Samfund visit: http://www.row32north.com/samfund.

Follow John and Kurt on Facebook, Instagramand Twitter as they document their journey across the sea.

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