Spaulding Rehabilitation Doctor Preps for Row Across the Atlantic

A year ago, John Lowry was going to work and looking forward to another year that was just like the one he’d lived through and the one before that and the one before that. This year, he’s looking forward to something entirely different.

In June, the doctor who wanted to be a novelist and a Coast Guard helicopter pilot when he was growing up, will leave Boston for a row across the Atlantic to London. He says the one thing he won’t forget is a sense of humor.

“We’ll all be tired, cold, hungry, and occasionally anxious,” he explained. “Complaining gets old fast. Making fun of the occasional misery builds solidarity and keeps everyone going.”

John Lowry

John’s motivation for rowing is not just to see but also to live in a world few have glimpsed: the open ocean from a small boat.

“I believe we can be at our best when conditions are at their worst. The person I will be at the end of the journey is someone I want to meet,” he said. “Also, I’ve always wanted to see London and I don’t care much for jet lag.”

John says he has two passions: the ocean and exercise.

“I grew up with a kayak paddle in my hands and haven’t let it go yet.”


When he was younger, he taught karate to people with disabilities and went on to practice rehabilitation medicine. Through adaptive sports in the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, he works to enable people to enjoy greater freedom of movement and to develop skills to live more independently.

The first question he had when he heard about the opportunity for the row was not how he would get through it but rather, “How am I going to sell this to my friends, family, and work?”

The most common question he gets is about whether it’s dangerous. It is, although there will be extensive safety measures taken. His response is, “A life lived without risk is more so.”

What he didn’t expect was how much he has learned about others. 

“A person’s response to finding out I’m attempting to row across the North Atlantic Ocean tells me a great deal more about who they are than who I am,” John said.

The three things he is looking to get out of the trip are: to be a better person, form lifetime bonds with his crew mates, and inspire others to dare to do the difficult and live fuller lives.

In looking ahead, John referenced a quote from TS Eliot, “…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” 

“Once this journey ends, I think for each of us a new one begins, he said. “Whatever is over that horizon, we’ll bend our oars and our wills to find it.”

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3 thoughts on “Spaulding Rehabilitation Doctor Preps for Row Across the Atlantic”

  1. John, I’m so excited to hear more about your adventure you and your mates will be in my prayers as I train for the 75 mile bike ride I told you about. I lost a lot of vision from the stroke, but found an adaptive tandem in which Jeff will steer from the back. It takes place in September. With God so many things become possible. Blessings brother!

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  2. I am rooting for all of you! It is good to hear you have a doc on board. I am sure each one of you bring unique skills to the group. I am sending you my encouragement and love. Patti Ingalls

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  3. Doc, I’m your biggest fan. You’ve been a great inspiration to me and never cease to amaze me. Rooting for all of you. I can’t wait for your return and hear all about this great adventure.

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