Honouring a Friend's Strength

Honouring a Friend's Strength

On a rainy morning in April 2012 members of the London Rowing Club made their way to the start line for the London Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk). There was no way the weather would dampen their spirits.

This was the club’s third time taking part in the fundraiser. This year, though, something had changed.

“I wasn’t expecting it to feel so different,” recalls Andrew, one of the club’s rowers. “We were all so emotional at the start line. It kind of caught everyone in their tracks.”

The 2012 Spring Sprint marked the first one for the rowing team without their friend and fellow rower, Vanessa.

Five months before the event, Vanessa passed away after an 11-year battle with a brain tumour.

walking in memory of friend lost to a brain tumourHoisting a boat on their shoulders, decorated in tribute to Vanessa, the 11-person Spring Sprint team also carried paddles bearing her name.

“It was a visible and meaningful tribute to Vanessa,” Andrew says. “Rowing was such a huge part of her life, and throughout her fight with the disease, she continued to be an incredible person and athlete. This tribute was meant to recognize that part of Vanessa; it was a powerful way of celebrating her.”

As the dedicated rowers took to the 5km course, intent on carrying the boat the entire way, Andrew remembers the sun breaking through the clouds and how appropriate it was for the day.

“It was a happy day, one that was such a positive reflection of Vanessa and her strength. Seeing the sun peek through and the streamers on the boat waving in the wind, it almost felt like she was with us.”

Looking ahead to next year, Andrew and the rest of the rowers aim to continue walking in support of everyone affected by a brain tumour, and in commemoration of their dear friend.

Andrew says it was in part Vanessa’s strength that motivated the team to first get involved, and now, to stay involved.

“It was something we did as a team to support Vanessa and do something about the disease. It became so much more powerful than we ever thought it would after seeing her journey. Vanessa’s strength and story has woven through our entire team, bringing us together, and inspiring us to do more.”





Thank you to Andrew and the rowing team for sharing how you have found strength in the face of loss. Thank you to everyone who gives and helps in honour of a lost loved one.

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 Story posted: October 2012. Since then, Brain Tumour Awareness Month has moved to May.

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