Texas Crew raises money to replace equipment lost in trailer fire

Savana Dunning

Texas Crew’s GoFundMe page successfully raised more than $31,000 to replace the equipment lost after the team’s trailer caught fire en route to a race on June 22, destroying three boats and several thousands of dollars in equipment.

Texas Crew, a student rowing team at UT, was in transit to Oklahoma City’s Stars and Stripes Regatta on June 22 when their trailer detached from the truck and the safety chain dragged on the cement, causing the trailer and everything inside to catch fire. No one was injured. 

In response to the accident, Texas Crew launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $25,000 to replace their boats and equipment. After news outlets picked up the story, Texas Crew raised $31,741 in nine days.

Equipment manager Elizabeth Green said the trailer held all of the team’s boat repair equipment. Because of high rent prices, the team cannot afford a boat house to house the equipment. Without that trailer and everything inside, Green said the team would not be able to travel to regattas, let alone compete in them.

“It was about three hours into the drive and I was carpooling with a friend and all of a sudden I got a call from my coach saying there’s been an accident,” linguistics junior Green said. “The next four hours were a mad rush of trying to get things set up for the next morning. I don’t really think it even sunk in, the reality of what happened, until several days after.” 

Fundraising co-chair Nicholas Ray said one of the boats lost was an expensive, 10-year-old racing four that the seniors of the team used to win medals in many regattas.

“It was probably the only racing four that we had that was good enough to go to regattas and be efficient,” biomedical engineering sophomore Ray said. “Without that, it’s going to be a huge loss to the whole crew family, so we’re going to have to replace that as well as the trailer.”

Despite the accident, the team was able to compete by renting unused boats from Oklahoma City teams and took home four medals from the regatta.

Biology sophomore Michael DiLeo, one of the rowers who competed in Oklahoma City, said although it was difficult adjusting to unfamiliar boats, the team was thankful for the other teams that let them use their boats.

“(The Oklahoma City teams) were all obviously using their best boats to compete, so we got what they weren’t using,” DiLeo said. “We were all using boats we weren’t used to, and it plays a factor to a certain extent, but just being able to race there, that was very nice. We’re very thankful that all the people out there were willing to let us borrow their equipment.” 

Ray said he didn’t expect to raise the equipment funds in such a short period of time.

“I was expecting to do a fundraiser a little bit later, like in the start of fall, so I was a little hesitant of how much we could get, but I was really surprised how the Austin community responded,” Ray said. “We’re really thankful.”