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About Para Rowing Foundation

History of PRF

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Para athletes asked many good questions of Marilyn Koblan, a nurse turned para and military rowing coordinator: Can I row with my disability? How can I get more training and experience as a rower? How do I get into competitions? Could I row for my national team? In seeking out the answers, the difficult truth was discovered that there are very few resources for para rowers. 

Faced with the understanding of these barriers, the future Para Rowing Foundation cofounder asked, “What do para athletes and future para athletes need to achieve their goals?” Para athletes' responses revealed the answer. To be successful, para athletes need exactly what all athletes need: Opportunities, Accessibility, and Expertise.

This realization was the beginning of PRF’s journey to support athletes and future athletes with disabilities around the world.

Barriers fade in the presence of resources. This premise is PRF’s foundation and has resulted in a variety of programming that aims to ease barriers to rowing for people with disability. ​Continually adding resources into the gaps in opportunity, accessibility and expertise has become the work of PRF. 

As PRF began to build resources, there was an ah-ha moment of recognition -- when most people want to jump into a sport, they go to a training camp. Para rowers rarely ever had access to this experience. Working to make this experience available to para athletes made for a good place to start adding resources. The plan was to develop our first para rowing training intensive.

With this concept in mind, Abby Gregory decided to add her talent for logistics, and passion for hospitality, in support of para athletes.

While scouting for training locations that would be accessible to athletes with disabilities, the soon-to-be cofounders stood on a sidewalk in Lisbon. The conversation was deeply focused for being in such a public space. The topic:  Should we or shouldn’t we do this crazy amazing thing and start the Para Rowing Foundation? 

The answer was a resounding yes! 

PRF's first training camp was held in Portugal in 2019 for para athletes from any nation. The goal was to maximize each participant's potential by addressing the needs of the whole person. This will be very familiar to you if you are familiar with Nursing concepts. PRF’s work is to put these concepts into action. 

Para Rowing Foundation’s logo is inspired by a sidewalk mosaic on a picturesque street of Lisbon where Abby and Marilyn stood together and made the decision to start Para Rowing Foundation. 

The symbol is so special to PRF. It will always remind us of our first training site and the commitment made to increasing rowing opportunities for athletes with disabilities.

A talented friend assisted in turning this photo into our logo.

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