“I am very excited to be doing this with Oak Hill and it is so special that I was able to personally meet the teachers and the kids. The students are absolutely fantastic and will be a strong source of inspiration for me. I got a great feeling for what a positive place Oak Hill is and I am so impressed with the quality of the staff and facilities. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together!”

Matthew Brown rows to world record!

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Matthew Brown, Jason Caldwell and British team mates Angus Collins and Alex Simpson, battled cabin fever and the worst elements the Atlantic ocean could throw at them as they took on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and won.

Oak Hill School is honored to be one of the charities benefiting from this year’s Atlantic Challenge.

"Even before crossing an ocean, I learned that any worthwhile endeavor will take you on a journey. The journey, like the sea, is bigger than you and will show you that you can't control everything. After crossing a stormy ocean, I can say with a quiet confidence and honest sense of humility that whatever your own personal "ocean" is, strive forward with a spirit of excellence to cross it. It may not always be easy and it will often require an effort that seems beyond you, but the journey will be transformative.

For students with Autism, communication is "supposed" to seem like a stormy ocean: overwhelming, intimidating, and jarring. And yet the students at Oak Hill are soaring those giant waves with aplomb, they are striving to navigate onward even when the journey is rough, and they are showing us that their most impactful contributions can come in the form of powerful communication. That's what Sean showed me when I first visited Oak Hill. He came up to me, looking effortlessly cool in his blue and white sunglasses, and initiated an introduction. I could tell it took effort to do this, but Sean was undaunted. The tenacity of his effort inspired me.  

(Newsletter article continues here)  As I came to know more of the students, I saw that this dauntless attitude pervaded the school. I will never forget how Katie stood up in front of all the students and delivered some transformative words of encouragement as I was entering one of the most physically and emotionally demanding sections of the race. Experts say that autism is typified by impaired communication, and yet this was some of the most powerful communication I've ever experienced. 

From my own journey I know that transcendent moments like these do not spontaneously occur in a vacuum; they require that somewhere along the way, someone (usually a teacher) saw something in you that no one else saw; someone was willing to foster and nurture and mentor your nascent ability. Teachers are those special individuals who help to elicit extraordinary performances from ordinary people.  

I've been fortunate to have a handful of amazing teachers to help shape my own life, and one thing you learn from them is that at the end of the day, it's not all about you. So I went into this race with the idea that I might be able to in some way inspire the Oak Hill kids, but it turns out they were the ones who inspired me. 

Sophia, Carl, Strider, Judge, Claire, Oscar, Aidan, and all of the Oak Hill students: thank you for your words of inspiration. You helped to give me strength when I didn't know I had any left. You reminded me to keep a sense of humor, to be thankful for my team, and you taught me that some of our most impactful contributions can arise from the very place that was supposed to sink us." 

- Matthew Brown

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ABOUT MATTHEW & OAKHILL

“I am very excited to be doing this with Oak Hill and it is so special that I was able to personally meet the teachers and the kids. The students are absolutely fantastic and will be a strong source of inspiration for me. I got a great feeling for what a positive place Oak Hill is and I am so impressed with the quality of the staff and facilities. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together!” said Brown.

Matthew R. Brown, winner of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge with Latitude 35 Crew, talks with Dennis O'Donnell about the team's Guiness World Record, the importance of teamwork, and the strength that comes from balance.
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About Matthew

Matthew R. Brown received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and went on to receive a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford. As a United States National Champion at the elite level in a single scull, he is often invited to speak to companies and teams about the leadership, mental toughness, and teamwork lessons that can be learned from elite athletes.

After graduating from Oxford, Matthew rowed at the historic Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia. Matthew is now a member of Marin Rowing Association, and lives in Alameda County with his wife, Heather, and his daughter, Olympia.