- Associated Press - Thursday, July 27, 2017

MATTOON, Ill. (AP) - Mike Houser has taken part in endurance athletic events, but there is one form of exercise that he says is far from his favorite.

Still, Houser was willing to do just that exercise, joining 29 others taking turns on rowing machines over a few hours on July 8.

“The thing I don’t like the most is rowing,” he admitted.

But Houser, co-owner of the CrossFit exercise facility in Mattoon, was happy to take part in and host the marathon rowing event because it raised money for Special Olympics.

He and his wife Mindy, the gym’s co-owner, have a nephew, Bradlee Todd, who takes part in Special Olympics and serves as what’s called a global ambassador for the organization.

“I’ve watched all these special needs kids doing something that makes him feel good and they enjoy,” he said.

Three teams of 10 people participated in the “Row Raiser” event, each taking turns on rowings machine until they’d covered the equivalent distance of a marathon, 26.2 miles.

Each team member had to raise or donate $50, so the event brought in $1,500 for the area Special Olympics based in Charleston, which covers 12 counties.

Area Special Olympics Director Vanessa Duncan said “Row Raiser” events have increased in number and all the money raised during one goes to Special Olympics in the area where it took place.

“That’s one benefit of this movement,” Duncan said.

She said the funds will go to the area Special Olympics‘ 2018 budget to help pay for the organization’s spring games and other activities, all of which are free for the athletes who participate.

The first “Row Raiser” was at a CrossFit facility in Quincy last year, and several of the gyms in Illinois conducted events on July 8.

It started when the Quincy-area Special Olympics director’s father contact the CrossFit there and “the bond developed there,” Duncan said.

Mindy Houser said her nephew’s mother told her about the “Row Raiser” event, so she contacted Duncan about one taking place locally. She said she works with other organizations that help special needs athletes and wanted to do more.

“I was just blown away and thought we could do something,” she said.

The best time for the rowing competition was 2 hours, 54 minutes, posted by the “Rowin’ with my Homies,” team from the CrossFit gym.

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Source: Mattoon Journal Gazette and The (Charleston) Times-Courier, https://bit.ly/2ubDyeT

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Information from: Mattoon Journal-Gazette, https://www.jg-tc.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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