Newsmakers Making A Difference: Recovery On Water

Nancy Harty
May 22, 2018 - 1:40 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Breast cancer brought them together, but it’s not what Diane Wojcik and the other women filing into row boats on the South Branch of the Chicago River on Sunday mornings talk about.

“We talk about rowing. We talk about other things. You know it’s an amazing group of women from all over Chicago, all walks of life that have this common experience,” Wojcik said.

WBBM Newsradio/Nancy Harty

The non-profit Recovery On Water gives survivors like Wojcik and Julie Brown, along with some still undergoing treatment, the benefit of regular exercise and a new community of friends. 

Brown starts tearing up as she talks about how her cancer diagnosis and treatment was the darkest period in her life, “but I honestly can say now that it’s the best thing that ever happened to me because I discovered Recovery on Water”.

ROW Programs Manager Devlin Murdock said practices in the water three times a week create an alternative support group.

“You have to work with the person in front of you and the person behind you. There’s an unspoken bond, but also this sense of support and positivity. You can’t knock each other down because ultimately you need the other person," Murdock said.

WBBM Newsradio/Nancy Harty

The women even work together putting the 60-foot-long carbon fiber boats in the water.

Once on the river, eight rowers are led by a coxswain - the only person who talks while they’re rowing – giving direction and steering the boat.

Not only does the physical exercise help keep those in recovery healthy, the bonds formed here lessen the pain.

“I may have lost a boob, but I gained the most incredible friendships from some of the toughest, most incredible women on the planet,” Brown said.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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