Houston men to row across Atlantic, honor fallen firefighter

Three Houston men are rowing across the Atlantic Ocean to honor Anne Sullivan, a local hero.

HOUSTON - A team of rowers plan to cross the Atlantic in a boat named after a local hero.

Some consider the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge the world’s toughest row. Teams spend nearly two months battling 30-foot waves.

“(I) thought it was pretty insane,” said David Alviar, part of the American Oarsmen. “(I) didn’t think it was possible.”

Still, former teacher David Alviar, a rowing coach all about growing muscles, his 260-pound agent Brian Krauskopf, who fears drowning, and their Navy vet buddy, Mike Matson, plan to cross in record time.

The American Oarsmen would be the first team from Texas to do it.

“For hundreds of years, man has wanted to get across the ocean and explore,” Matson said. “To me, this is the new age way to do that.”

Cramped in with food and survival gear, they will squeeze into a boat the size of a pick-up truck. They will only get help if the crew flag down passing ships, Matson said.

However, they are confident “Anne,” built to honor fallen Houston firefighter Anne Sullivan, can overcome anything.

Sullivan died in the line of duty doing what she loved. She and Matson once rode on the same truck when the pair worked for the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department.

“We nicknamed her 'Mighty Mouse,' and I remember one of the physical training days, and she picked up a hose a lot of the guys struggled to move,” Matson said.

He considers Sullivan an inspiration.

“She gave her life for doing something she loved,” Alviar said. “In a lot of ways, we’re giving up a lot of our lives, just not our life itself, for this. So (we) kind of want to carry that forward and give other people that kind of passion and energy.”

With help from Anne’s mom, Mary Sullivan, Matson’s trio christened “Anne” as the Texas Navy’s first ship to hit the high seas in over 150 years.

In February, they hope to make history again and perhaps inspire others to dream big, too.

“Anyone who feels like there is something ahead of them in their life that they can’t do, this kind of tells them that no matter how big it is, there’s a way to do it,” Alviar said.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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