The Mike O’Neill Scholarship

Genesee Rowing Club, Genesee Waterways and Rochester Boat Club are excited to announce the 2018 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 in 2018.


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. 

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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.