Rowers raising money, awareness for CWRU’s International Center for Autism Research and Education

Autism awareness ribbonWhen training on Lake Erie, members of the St. Edward High School rowing team often peer north across the water and imagine.

Without fail, said Matt Previts, St. Ed’s director of rowing, someone remarks, “Wouldn’t it be cool to row to Canada and back!”

“Everyone’s always joked about it, laughed about it,” said Previts, a double alum of Case Western Reserve University and son of CWRU accounting Professor Gary Previts, the E. Mandell de Windt Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development. “There’s always this fascination, and it sort of morphed into this.”

“This” is an idea he hatched this summer: In mid-August, two St. Ed’s crew teams plan to row from Canada to Cleveland to raise awareness and funds for two causes. One team will raise money for Case Western Reserve’s International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICARE); the other for a nonprofit cancer research organization yet to be chosen.

Each rower will raise at least $1,000 for the designated charity of each boat.

“We are so appreciative of St. Ed’s rowers,” said Lynn Singer, the university’s deputy provost and vice president for academic affairs and a professor epidemiology and biostatistics, pediatrics, psychiatry and psychology. She also chairs ICARE’s steering committee. “The funds they raise will directly accelerate the research here in Cleveland aimed at combatting autism spectrum disorders that now affect one in 68 American children.”

“Operation Maple Bacon,” as the rowers have christened the mission, will launch from Laverne Kelly Memorial Park in Erieau, Ontario, Canada, to Cleveland on Aug. 15 or 16, based on weather and lake conditions.

The 54-mile trip is expected to take between seven and nine hours.

“This is a physical, mental challenge that they’ve embraced,” said Previts, who earned an MBA and Master of Science in Information Systems from CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management in 2002. “This is something they’re excited about.”

The two teams will consist of eight rowers and a coxswain. Each crew will also have an alternate/spare rower and share an alternate/spare coxswain.

For safety and support, three motor-powered craft capable of swapping out rowers or providing assistance if needed will follow along. Support vessels will be equipped with radios to communicate with each other, the rowing shells, Coast Guard and other traffic along the travel route. Alternate rowers, coaches, medical trainer/doctor, guests and any interested media will be aboard.