AZTEC, N.M. (KRQE) -Two New Mexico sheriff’s deputies are getting ready to take on one of the most dangerous challenges of their lives in a competition that will have them crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a rowboat.
Far from the desert of the Four Corners region, the Atlantic Challenge is an annual roughly 30-day race across 3,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Forming “Team Guardian,” San Juan County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jarrod Slindee and Captain Mark Pfetzer are now starting the long process of getting ready to compete in the challenge scheduled for December 2022.
“We’re going across the ocean literally on just the oars, there’s no propeller, there’s no sail, nothing like that, we’re just on the oars rowing, rowing to the Caribbean,” Slindee said in a phone interview with KRQE News 13 Tuesday.
The planned race will be a first for both deputies who are now raising funds to get a boat and supplies for their journey. “I grew up on the ocean, but I’ve never rowed,” said Pfetzer.
What’s driving the northwest New Mexico deputies to take on the ocean is an effort to help other first responders. “There are psychological traumas experienced by first responders,” Pfetzer said.
According to data from the organization “Blue H.E.L.P.,” it is more likely for officers to take their own lives than to die in the line of duty. In response to the data, Pfetzer and Slindee started the “Guardian Initiatives” project. “Our cause is first responder wellness and suicide prevention,” Pfetzer said.
The two hope the Atlantic Challenge can help them raise money to make a difference. “However we can help… really our community’s heroes,” Pfetzer said.
Learn more about Team Guardian and the Guardian Initiative’s project.