Col. Warren Foersch, the retired deputy commandant at Culver Military Academy, also served as an assistant rowing coach during his tenure. Known for his style of recruiting new cadets for the novice team, Foersch has been battling panceatic cancer during the past year.
To show their support for Foersch, three CMA first classmen conducted an event designed to “honor everything he did for us.” The “Row for Colonel Foersch” event conducted on Saturday, Oct. 12, easily broke its goal of 2.5 million meters. It also saw a corresponding fundraising campaign break its goal.
The event was a senior service project designed by Jason Dilena (Tiburon, California), Hudson Carmouche (Bloomington, Illinois), and Charles Jones (Bloomington, Indiana). Conducted at the White-DeVries Rowing Center, the event ran for five hours with the intention of logging enough meters on the ergometers and bikes to travel from Culver to Foersch’s home in Spokane, Wash.
The idea came to the rowers after realizing that Foersch had been the novice coach for the past three classes, they explained. Those three classes have produced Culver’s three national championship boats. Foersch’s legacy is that he taught the rowers how to “grind,” they said, and that made the difference at the national championships.
That is why they decided to ask their teammates and others in the Culver community to grind out the 2.5 million meters as a show of support for the colonel.
Carmouche said he didn’t have Foersch as a rowing coach, but was influenced by him during Upper Camp when the colonel served as the summer commandant. Huffman was on the regimental staff and spent a lot of time with Foersch. “He was a mentor for me,” he said.
The three boys thought it may be a stretch to reach the 2.5 million meters goal since participation was strictly voluntary. But the volunteers, including members of the rowing team, students, faculty and staff members, and parents, reached one million meters in just the first 90 minutes. When they had finished, a total of 175 people – including a group of former Culver rowers in Florida – racked up 2.8 million meters during the five hours.
As they were planning the event, people kept asking how they could make donations. The boys found a Ways to Help section on the colonel’s CaringBridge page, which his wife, Debbie, uses to keep everyone updated on his health. A GoFundMe site through CaringBridge was started with a $5,000 goal.
The funds will be used to cover the medical and travel costs for the Foersches as they travel from Spokane to Seattle for treatment. In the first 17 days after the Oct. 12 event, 85 people contributed $8,504.