Fifty-one miles for 51 years

Danette Dooley
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Man celebrates birthday with marathon row for charity

A Conception Bay South man has come up with a unique way to celebrate his birthday while raising money for sick children.

Clem Whittle turned 51 in March.

In August, the Long Pond man will mark that milestone by rowing 51 miles from North Arm in Holyrood to the St. John's harbour.

Clem Whittle gets ready for his rowing attempt with a practice row in Conception Bay South. Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

A Conception Bay South man has come up with a unique way to celebrate his birthday while raising money for sick children.

Clem Whittle turned 51 in March.

In August, the Long Pond man will mark that milestone by rowing 51 miles from North Arm in Holyrood to the St. John's harbour.

Whittle's fundraiser dubbed "A Dory Load of Wishes" takes place on Aug. 1 and 2.

All funds raised will be turned over to the Children's Wish Foundation.

As the first to contribute to the cause, Whittle is donating $10 per mile for every year of his life for a total of $510.

He's dedicating the fundraiser to his grandniece Jessie Routh of California who passed away 12 years ago.

The child was 22 months old at the time of her sudden death.

"She was a beautiful little normal child then all of a sudden she took sick and within 24 hours she was dead, a little blond angel," Whittle says.

A veteran rower, Whittle takes to his dory in Conception Bay almost every morning to build up for the gruelling row.

"I left the other day and rowed from Long Pond to St. Philip's to get used to the longer rows," he says.

When asked where he'll dock and stay for the night of Aug. 1, Whittle's thoughts go back to his father's day fishing the Grand Banks.

"When they rowed long distances from one community to the other, they'd haul the dory up, turn it bottom up, sleep under it for the night, and then travel on the rest of the distance in the morning."

While he hasn't quite decided if he'll continue the tradition, it's certainly an option that he's mulling over, says the self-employed painting contractor.

The fundraiser is a solo row, however, Whittle says he's grateful to family and friends who are helping him with pledges.

He and his volunteers will be visiting local stores over the next few weeks with pledge sheets in hand, he says.

Grassroots support

Derek DeLouche, Children's Wish Foundation chapter director for Newfoundland and Labrador, says the organization has built its fundraising program on grassroots support from the community.

The foundation, in this province, has already completed 17 wishes this year.

Another 27 are in the works, deLouche says.

"We do have some events where we receive corporate support but the majority of our donations are $10's and $20's from the public. All it takes is one person to get the ball rolling into what could be a major effort on our behalf," deLouche says.

Whittle's rowing efforts will help raise funds for and awareness of the Children's Wish Foundation, deLouche says.

"We're looking to Clem achieving both his goals, to celebrate his 51st birthday in style but to also raise money for a dory load of wishes."

Anyone wishing to take a pledge sheet or to donate to the cause can call the Children's Wish Foundation at 709 739 9474 or go online at www.childrenswish.ca and donate to the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter in Whittle's name.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Wish Foundation

Geographic location: California, Conception Bay, Long Pond North Arm Holyrood St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador

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