I had the pleasure of having dinner with Chris Bertish this year. Chris successfully completed a solo, unassisted and unaided crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard. A custom-built 20 ft stand-up paddle craft helped him cross the Atlantic Ocean on a journey of 4,600 miles starting in Morocco, Africa and ending in Antigua, Caribbean. The story of his adventure is fascinating. The process leading up to the event was riddled with challenges related to visas, food, transportation and his vessel. However, on December 6, 2016, he finally embarked on his epic adventure. While he has many stories of things that happened during this adventure, four, in particular, stood out for me.
He recalls one day when ended up in the path of multiple tankers bearing down on him. After making radio contact with the tankers, he recalls their stunned silence when they realized that the blip on their radar was a 20ft non-powered craft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Clearly, they would have to adjust their course to miss him. He showed me a photograph of his Garmin watch taken at that time measuring his heart rate at 208 beats per minute – which is very close to cardiac arrest!
As you might imagine, he dealt with many storms and heavy waves. One particularly stormy night he placed a parachute anchor in the water to steady the craft while he slept. He awoke with his board moving in the opposite direction to the currents and wind. After checking in with his support team via an SAT phone, they validated via GPS that he was moving in the wrong direction. They concluded that the only way this could occur was if a very large sea animal, such as a whale or giant squid, got caught in the parachute and was pulling him. The immediate fear was that the animal would dive and drag him into the abyss. He quickly reached for his knife and cut the cord to release the parachute. The abrupt release of the tension in the cord cut through his hand exposing the bone and capsized his craft. Not only did he need to right-size the board during the storm, but he also had to dress his significant wound in the dark.The last stretch was one of his biggest challenges. He had to divert from a Hurricane hitting the Caribbean, which was his end-point. To divert he had to paddle out of the way of the hurricane and to do so in a timely fashion he had to paddle for more than 12 hours a day. The additional paddling and effort, after the journey he had just had, produced a tear in his shoulder muscle and a badly damaged rotator cuff. However, he pushed through and, in his own words “I knew the impact I was making and the millions it would help, so quitting was just never an option.” He successfully averted the hurricane and made it to safety in the Caribbean ... crossing the Atlantic unassisted ... 93 days later.What a feat! He accomplished more than a full Iron Man every day for over 90 days straight. When asked why he did it, he responded that he was driven by purpose. With this amazing feat, he raised enough money to help build schools in Africa, feed millions of children and helps thousands of children get their cleft palate corrected with surgery from Operation Smile.
Why do I Tell you This Story?
Firstly, it is fascinating to see the utter human capacity to endure. Secondly, I also found many similarities in this story to our past year at Reveal. We also achieved some of our biggest records this year, not only in number and size of projects, but also in the number of new hires, and most importantly in our Give Back initiatives. We will have given more money away to causes we support than ever before, our people have taken more “give-back” time than ever before and we have supported more causes than in previous years... but, like with Chris, this feat was not accomplished without adversity, challenges and a superhuman lift from all involved. Our people at Reveal had to come together as a team and resolve project challenges, resource shortages, employee health challenges and extensive travel. Through all this, as one team, we have continued to show our passion for our clients and what we do, resourcefulness in overcoming the challenges and, most importantly, grit in getting the job done…It is years like this that remind me that it is all about the journey and not about the destination, as this axiom suggests:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screamingWOO HOO what a ride!"
We can’t be prouder of everyone in Reveal who has shown the passion, grit, and follow-through to help achieve all of our targets and be able to meet our true purpose of giving back to the community at large.