Dozens of kids grabbed their paddles and put their boats in the Scioto River Saturday for the third annual Blake Haxton Regatta...what is fast becoming a premiere, regional rowing event.
They came from all over the midwest.
15 high school teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan.
Boys and girls worked as a unit, as they glided across the choppy water.
Blake Haxton is their biggest cheerleader - his story - the inspiration behind this growing yearly event.
"It's really been cool to see all the teams come together, be around for a really great day of racing, the weather has held for us, which has been real nice," Blake said.
Blake was a star rower at Upper Arlington High School...one of the best in the state.
But then as a high school senior, it seemed his life almost stopped, when he came down with the biggest challenge of his life.
He contracted necrotizing fasceitis, a flesh-eating bacteria.
The battle cost him his legs - and nearly his life - but not quite.
It's an experience that has shaped his life...and given him new focus on what's important, "Teamwork, determination, hard work, trust in the people around you…The things I learned rowing, really get me through that in a big way, and so I really like trying to give back."
Part of that is the time he spends coaching rowers at his alma mater, a role he embraces with humility, especially at the regatta named after him.
"It's really not about me, it has nothing to do with me...it's about great teams coming together and competing and making each other better and making themselves better, and that's a blast any time you get to be a part of it…If I had to sum it up in one word, of things we hope the kids take away from this event, it's building relationships with the people around them."
Funds raised from Saturday’s regatta go right back into the Upper Arlington crew program to help pay for kids who otherwise would not be able to participate in the sport.