When his mother, Kathie, died from melanoma in 2001, Paul Ridley, of Stamford, Conn., resolved to raise money for research and patient care at Yale Cancer Center (YCC), and he took a unique approach to this goal.

“There are easier ways to raise money, but I happened to be a rower,” says Ridley, who rowed crew as an undergraduate at Colgate University. On March 29, Ridley completed an 88-day, 3,500-mile solo row across the Atlantic Ocean, becoming just the third American—and, at 25, the youngest—to row across the Atlantic alone.

Ridley’s odyssey, “Row for Hope” (www.rowforhope.com) began January 1 in the Canary Islands, as he climbed into a narrow, 400-pound custom-built fiberglass boat, determined to row 10 to 13 hours a day to reach the shores of the Caribbean island of Antigua and to eventually raise $500,000 for YCC, his partner in the effort. Although Ridley’s mother wasn’t treated at YCC, the $100,000 raised so far by his feat will fund work directed by Associate Professor of Medicine Mario Sznol, M.D., who specializes in cancer immunotherapy for melanoma and renal cell carcinoma.

“We’re very honored that he came to us,” says Sznol, “and we’ll work very hard to make sure his incredible effort is put to good use.”