The Julie Baker and Mike O’Neill Scholarship
Genesee Rowing Club, Genesee Waterways and Rochester Boat Club are excited to announce the Julie Baker and Mike O’Neill Scholarship Fund. This fund distributes awards to master level rowers who demonstrate a financial need and/ or hardship that would deter them from rowing.
The purpose of this scholarship is to get people on the water who otherwise would be unable to afford the expense of rowing. We believe that rowing is beneficial for everyone, and in the spirit of Mike, we want to enable deserving people to participate in the sport. Please see Mike’s bio below. The award may be granted in partial or full. Veterans and people with health-related issues have first priority. Other deserving individual will be considered on a case-by-case basis
If you are interested in the scholarship, please fill out this form. In the "message" section please include your circumstances for desiring help from the scholarship, rowing experience (if any), and how you feel rowing will help you in the coming year. Also, explain how you plan to use the funds and how much you are seeking. Experience with rowing is not necessary. Beginners are encouraged to apply.
About Julie Baker
Julie Baker was an amazing human being and a gift to the Rochester rowing community.
Having lost her dear husband to cancer, she raised their three precious daughters alone. She was the only sister to six brothers.
In 2009 at the suggestion of a classmate during her 30th high school reunion, Julie gave rowing a try and found her passion...and she gave back. Julie volunteered her time and talents in any way she could. She became involved in the formation and development of rowing organizations both on the Genesee River and the Erie Canal. She was the principal founder and first president of the Rochester Boat Club. She enjoyed helping others share in this glorious sport--teaching beginners on the erg or from the cox seat, or mentoring a new sculler from bow--offering helpful instruction, encouragement, and enthusiasm. Because of Julie, the sport of rowing has been furthered in the Rochester area, and many folks have enjoyed life-changing health benefits and experienced improved quality of life (while having fun and making new friends).
On and off the water Julie was tenacious and hardworking, outgoing and caring. She sparkled with positivity and embraced new challenges. Her smile lit up the room. By day, she was an electrical engineer, a manufacturer's sales representative, and a business entrepreneur. In her spare time, she loved to hang out with family and friends, dance, sing, host parties, laugh, play ping pong, practice yoga, and work in her garden.
Julie was loved by all who knew her, and her absence is felt deeply. Her spirit lives on in all who had the honor of knowing her.
About Mike O’Neill
Mike was a civil engineer who was diagnosed in 2008 with coronary artery disease and high cholesterol. Some of his work colleagues were rowers who were forming a new rowing club called the Genesee Rowing Club (GRC). They convinced Mike that rowing would help improve his health issues and in turn, Mike could help them plan and build a boat house for the newly formed club.
Mike was instrumental in working with Monroe County to acquire park land for the boat house and construct a fully functional boat house at the intersection of the Genesee River and the Erie Canal. During all of this time-consuming work, Mike fully immersed himself into learning how to row in the indoor tanks and ultimately training on the water. He began to participate in all of the local and national regattas representing GRC. He served on the GRC board and serve as a GRC board VP. His smile and positive attitude was infectious and his comraderie to all levels of rowers was a welcome force for the club.
In 2012, Mike was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Mike went through over a year of treatment and surgeries. Unfortunately, his hard fought battle with the disease was unsuccessful and Mike passed away peacefully on July 28, 2013. Christine, Mike’s wonderful wife has supported his rowing and involvement in the club and we are grateful for the time she enabled Mike to be part of our growing club.
In 2016, with Christine’s help, a scholarship was developed to support individuals who wanted to experience rowing but were financially unable to join the sport. An annual rowing regatta is held in Rochester, NY to raise funds for this scholarship.