Frank Rothwell, 70, just made history by becoming the oldest man to ever row across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted, and in doing so, he raised $70 million for Alzheimer’s research.
Rothwell, who is from Oldham, England, began his journey on December 12, when he set off from the Canary Islands. Just 56 days later, he crossed the finish line in Antigua one week ahead of schedule. Even he could not believe he’d actually completed the grueling 3,000 mile journey.
“I felt quite emotional approaching the finish,” Rothwell told the BBC. “It took six long weeks to row the Atlantic, but the challenge itself has taken over 18 months of training and preparation, so I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and the unbelievable journey I’ve been on.”
Rothwell’s goal was to raise £1 million for Alzheimer’s research, and thanks to over 9,400 donors, he managed to reach his goal and then some! As of this week, he’s raised £1,048,783, which is over $1.4 million in U.S. dollars!
One of the biggest donations came from the supermarket firm Iceland Foods, which pledged to double the first £500,000 of donations. Sir Malcolm Walker, who founded the company, said that he’d known Rothwell for years an that he “knew his determination”.
“But seeing the heart-warming and generous support he’s receiving from the public is astounding,” Sir Walker added.
The journey across the Atlantic was particular emotional for Rothwell because he was doing it for his brother-in-law, who sadly died of Alzheimer’s at the age of just 62.
“While rowing, I received heartbreaking messages from people who have had similar experiences to my own, with my brother-in-law, Roger, so I hope I’ve helped other families in some way too,” he said.
Rothwell is now hoping that the money he raised will help find a life-changing treatment for the disease.
“Massive congratulations to Frank Rothwell for reaching his dream fundraising target of £1 MILLION for dementia research after rowing an epic 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean!” Alzheimer’s Research UK wrote on Facebook. “Your donations will help bring us closer to life-changing breakthroughs in dementia research. After a challenging year, we are bursting with thanks to Frank and all who have supported his incredible challenge!”
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said that the money Rothwell raised will be a “crucial lifeline” for research efforts.
“By taking on such a monumental challenge at 70 years old, he has helped to spread awareness and inspired people of all ages to take on their own challenges,” she said.
God bless you, Frank Rothwell!