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Mike O'Neill Scholarship

The Mike O’Neill Scholarship Fund provides awards to master level rowers who demonstrate a financial need, and/ or a hardship that would deter them from rowing. Veterans and people with health related issues have first priority. Others deserving individual will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The purpose of the scholarship is to get people on the water who otherwise would be unable to afford the expense of rowing. The award granted may be partial or a full. We believe that rowing is beneficial for everyone, and in the spirit of Mike, we want to enable deserving people to participate. 

To apply for the Mike O’Neill Scholarship, you must submit a written letter to Mary Fredlund and Patrick Fricke, explaining your background, knowledge of rowing, your circumstances, how you feel rowing will help you cope with your circumstances. Awards will not be announced publicly. The person applying will receive a written answer. Recipients are selected on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis by Scholarship Committee. Payment will be made directly to the Rowing Club once the Scholarship is awarded. 

  Michael Dean O’Neill 


In 2008 Mike was diagnosed with the beginning stages of Coronary Artery Disease accompanied with High Cholesterol. At that same time the newly formed Genesee Rowing Club (GRC) was putting together a plan to present to Monroe County to build a boat house on a piece of under utilized park land.  Over breakfast one morning with Eric Geoca, it became clear to both Mike and Eric that the sport of rowing could help Mike address some of his health issues and that he could help GRC with the pursuit of a permanent home.


This ultimately was a double success as Mike's help and generous donations of time and company service resulted in a successful acquisition of the use of Monroe County Park land for the club and the construction of our current boat house.  Likewise the sport of rowing became a passion of Mike's as it greatly helped him improve his health and engaged his passion for competition.  Mike competed in many rowing competitions such as Masters Nationals, Head of the Genesee, Head of the Charles and the Geoca Home Boat in the Corporate Challenge.  Ultimately Mike became a GRC Board Member and Vice-President of the Genesee Rowing Club based in Rochester, NY.  


    On April 5, 2012, one day before his 56th birthday, Mike was diagnosed with Stage 3 Esophageal Cancer. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation and eventually on August 20, 2013 endured a 12 hour surgery known as an Esophageal Resection. This surgery removes the entire esophagus and pulls the stomach up to create a brand new esophagus.  Mike spent two weeks in the hospital and nine months of intensive rehabilitation to train his “new esophagus” to work as well as gaining back his physical strength back. His wife Christine took a leave of absence from work and became his full-time caretaker. The long hard fight was showing signs of paying off as Mike grew stronger and was getting ready to start back to work on a part-time basis. Unfortunately Mike received news on May 9, 2013 his cancer had returned and that he was terminal.


    Unable to withstand any further medical treatments and wishing the remaining days of his life be “quality over quantity”, Mike went on home Hospice July 4th 2013 and on July 28, 2013, at the age of 57, Mike peacefully passed away with his wife and children by his side. 


          Mike treated everyone he met with great respect. He was such a strong and positive presence both in the surveying and rowing communities. His smile and laughter were contagious and he was never short on corny stories or jokes. His hand shake was his word that he would stand behind making him an extraordinary, caring and genuine man. Mike was a strong but gentle man and there seemed to be no problem he could not resolve. His impact on the company he took such pride in helped pave the way for the company’s continued success after his death. 


          Taken way too early in this life, Michael left behind his wife Christine, his three sons, Tim and Tom  O’Neill with his first wife Roxanne Thayer, and Ryan Bobzin, son of Christine. Along with his children are his two Daughter-in-laws Danille and Tori, Grandchildren Hanna, Hayli and Dean. Last but not least and not to be excluded his two faithful companion dogs, Max and Cody, who remained by his side as Mike made the difficult journey his cancer would take him. 


          Mike is gone but not forgotten. He continues to live on through the hearts of all that loved and adored him.