What do you do when you meet a true life action adventure hero? Here’s what happened.
One of the shows at this year’s NAMT Fest 30 was a musical by Dawn Landes & Danny Goldstein appropriately entitled “Row.” It presented the story of Tori Murden McClure the 1st American & 1st woman to ROW solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She accomplished this on her 2nd attempt as her first go came to an end when she came across a little thing called a hurricane. Tori might have stopped after that 1st try, but, from the age of 15, she had lived in Louisville &, as life would have it, she was introduced to a local by the name of Muhammed Ali. When asked what he thought about stopping or trying again, his response, as she tells it, was “Do you want to be known as the woman who ALMOST rowed across the ocean?” Yet finally succeeding wasn’t enough: she then decided to take up skiing & went on a little trip to Antartica & skied to the geographic South Pole. In case you’re counting that was about 700 miles. After the 81-day 2,962 mile trip across the ocean you could say the ski was nothing but a little jaunt -- except that she also became the 1st American and 1st woman to do that.
Her rowboat was named “Pearl” and she wrote a memoir called “A Pearl in the Storm.” She might’ve taken a much-deserved rest after that but having a BA in Psych from Smith; Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School; J.D. from the Univ of Louisville School of Law; & MFA in writing from Spalding Univ, she just steamed on ahead & became President of Spalding U. The what’s, the why’s & the wherefore’s are all laid out in the thrilling piece of musical theatre “Row” for which she & her husband volunteered to build the one single set piece required: a version of the “Pearl”. And Tori actually came to the NAMT performances which is how I met her. When that happened I could only think of what Sir Charles Barkley once said: “I don’t believe in role models. But you’re mine!” And of course I asked if I could get a couple of photos.
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