By Nick Patch, Director of Maritime Programs
This impactful and heartwarming row-a-thon style event is run every year to learn from and celebrate the life of Paul Hoeppner. Paul was a passionate rower and participant in our Champlain Longboats program. Paul took his life in October 2018 at the age of 17. The goal of this annual event is to celebrate Paul’s life and educate our community and the public about strategies to prevent teen suicide. As part of this event, Joe Hoeppner spoke passionately and eloquently about teen suicide to the rowers before leading all participants in guided mindfulness exercise, a strategy that is used to combat the epidemic of teen depression and suicide. The event raised $33,000 to support the work of the Hoeppner Project and the Museum’s on-water programming for teens.
This year, the Hope for TomorROW had 32 participating teams and 16 skilled and generous coxwains who gave their time to cox teams across Lake Champlain. Teams row in the Museum’s rowing gigs from our own North Harbor to Barn Rock Harbor, on the New York side of the lake, and back – a distance of two miles.
We also always take an opportunity swim and relax in Barn Rock Harbor before the return crossing. Over 200 rowers participated in the rowing event while many others sponsored rowing teams by making contributions to Project Hoeppner and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Teams are encouraged to get creative with team names, costumes, and bonding. We always give out raffle prizes as well as awards to the most creative team themes.
The nature of this event is serious and thought-provoking but designed to give us all hope. The smiles and tears and joy that was shared at this event were very clear evidence that we were succeeding in that collaborative goal. It was a day of learning, celebration, and joy!