SARASOTA-BRADENTON, FLA.—For Bill and Allie Loveland, the past week has been one of the most challenging of their lives. As Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc across Florida, the Orlando couple’s home was severely damaged. “We experienced high winds, which caused many of our trees to come down. We now have buckets in every single room collecting water leaking from the roof,” said Allie.
Through the stress and frustration left in the storm’s path, like many others, the Loveland’s jumped in their car on Saturday and traveled to the Polo Grill in Lakewood Ranch. They weren’t there to dine, but to attend the final volunteer training session for the 2017 World Rowing Championships, an international regatta taking place in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida for the first time in 23 years beginning next week.
“We made a commitment to volunteer. You don’t go back on your commitment. You must be there,” said Allie, who with Bill, established the Edgewater Adaptive Rowing Club of College Park.
More than 500 people attended the training session. Nearly 95% of the audience raised a hand when Meredith Scerba, the executive director of the 2017 World Rowing Championships, grabbed the microphone and asked, “How many of you lost power?”
“I was inspired by the amount of people who attended,” said Scerba. Many of them have been through hell the last week, and to see them come out and show how much they care about a sporting event is truly remarkable.
”The Loveland’s will make the trip back to Sarasota-Bradenton in a few days with nearly 2,000 other volunteers. Bill and Allie’s focus won’t be on a storm that ruined their property, but an event known for bringing people together from around the world.
“This is a part of who we are. We are thankful and blessed for this opportunity” said Bill, “We enjoy doing this kind of thing. We know this may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for our country to be able to host this event.”