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Mom Rides Wave of Emotion at Benefit

Saturday's Matthew Zucker Memorial Ergathon will be bittersweet for Barbara Zucker. On the one hand, she's grateful the community supports the event, now in its 12th year, which raises money for scholarship programs for at-risk young people offered by the Norwalk River Rowing Association. On the other, she wishes her son, who died of brain cancer in 1998, could be there.

"It always is an emotional day,'' says Barbara, who joined the NRRA in 1986 and is one of its charter members. "Because my son was so attached to the NRRA and rowing, and it meant so much to him, I'd rather put my efforts into this than any other program. He expressed the desire that he would like to see kids learn how to row. That sort of gave me the direction. I feel good about that."

The Ergathon raises money to support NRRA's groundbreaking Reach Out and Row (ROAR) program, which provides scholarships so at-risk youth can participate in team rowing. It takes place Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at NRRA headquarters, 1 Moodys Lane, Norwalk.

Community members are invited to join NRRA adult and youth members as they row a combined 1.5 million meters. Participants collect pledges and donations for The Matthew Zucker Memorial Fund by rowing from 10 to 10,000 meters on machines called ergometers. Last year, the ergathon raised over $25,000, which helped support more than 20 rowing scholarships, after-school rowing programs, school-based partnerships and a teen mom team.

Barbara Zucker started the ergathons and did much of the work herself in the early years. NRRA employees now do most of the work, although Zucker is still a key figure, rowing and contributing to the event. Her son was an avid rower and NRRA team member.

"I'm really pleased it has continued for 12 years,'' Barbara said. "That's what makes the NRRA different from the other rowing clubs. It's there to serve to the community." For more information about the event, visit the NRRA's Web site .

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