70-Year-Old Man Raises More Than $1 Million for Charity with Solo Row Across Atlantic Ocean
Frank Rothwell completed his journey on Saturday, more than a week ahead of schedule
A 70-year-old British man who says his motto is "You're never too old" has completed a 3,000-mile solo journey rowing across the Atlantic Ocean — and has raised more than $1 million for charity in the process.
Frank Rothwell rowed ashore in Antigua more than a week ahead of schedule on Saturday, 56 days after he set sail from the Canary Islands on Dec. 12, according to his website.
"I felt quite emotional approaching the finish," he 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 took part in the journey with the goal of raising £1 million (or about $1.37 million) for Alzheimer's Research UK, according to his JustGiving page. As of Monday morning, he was just several thousand dollars shy of meeting his goal.
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The cause is near and dear to his heart, as Rothwell lost his brother-in-law Roger to Alzheimer's at 62 years old, the BBC reported.
"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 expected the journey to take between 60 and 90 days, and was aiming to get to Antigua on Valentine's Day to reunite with his wife Judith.
"The biggest individual challenge is going to be loneliness and missing my darling wife Judith to whom I have been married for 50 years," he said on his website. "I will also miss a proper steak!"
Rothwell said he trained for more than a year before his journey, and felt as though his strength and agility were at the same levels they were when he was in his late 40s.
"I believe rowing across the Atlantic Ocean solo, and unsupported, is the biggest challenge I can imagine without taking too much risk or endangering others. It makes all the other things I have done seem like a walk in the park!" he said on his website.
Rothwell is no stranger to a good challenge — he sailed his own yacht around the world from 2000 to 2003, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2006. In 2017, he spent five weeks on a deserted island for the TV series The Island with Bear Grylls, and prior to that, was just the 10th person to ever circumnavigate North and South America.
"I'll be carrying all of my own food and supplies, meaning my boat will weigh half a tonne!" he wrote on his fundraising page. "It will be tough, but my motto is, 'You're never too old!'"
Rothwell's journey was trackable on an app, and he said on his site that he planned to spend two hours rowing, then two hours sleeping each day and night.
When he finally wrapped his trip, he'd completed 1.5 million oar strokes — and gone through 800 sheets of toilet paper, according to his Twitter account.
Though Guinness World Records names 72-year-old Graham Walters as the oldest person to ever row solo across the Atlantic, Rothwell is the oldest person to complete the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, an annual race from the Canary Islands to Antigua, according to the BBC.
The Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation has helped Rothwell as he continues to raise money for Alzheimer's research, and offered to match the first £500,000 he received in donations.
"We're bursting with pride and gratitude to the incredible @Frank_Rothwell!" Alzheimer's Research UK wrote on Twitter. "HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated and supported him so far - what a way to beat the Monday blues!"