FARMINGTON, N.M. (KRQE) – A team from New Mexico made up of former and current first responders is taking part in a rowboat race. There’s one catch; the race spans the Atlantic Ocean. 

Most people would think they’re crazy, but the team from Farmington is doing it to raise awareness and money for something a lot of first responders battle.  

“While I was there they asked, ‘would you be interested in joining us on this?’ And I was like, ‘yeah no, not interested at all,'” said retired Sgt. Mike Hogue. 

Retired Sergeant Mike Hogue said, when he was first asked to row a boat 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, he thought it was crazy. He changed his mind when he found out it was for a good cause. 

Captain Mark Pfetzer and Lieutenant Jarrod Slindee are the founders of “Guardian Initiatives,” a non-profit raising mental health awareness for first responders. 

They say participating in the “Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge” was an opportunity to spread the word for their cause.  

“We decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean to get the attention of everybody. You know, it’s easy just to talk about it, but when you say you’re going to row across the Atlantic Ocean, it really captures the attention of everybody,” explained Lt. Jarrod Slindee. 

More than 43 teams are set to participate in the race this year, and they will have to deal with oceans that can generate waves that are more than 20 feet tall. It will start in La Gomera, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. The race ends in Antigua near Puerto Rico. 

“Team Guardian” said they’ve spent four years preparing for the race and estimated the trip could take 45 days to finish. 

They’ve packed freeze-dried food, a saltwater filter, and sentimental letters to read on their journey. Captain Mark Pfetzer shared the secret ingredient he’s bringing with him to be ready for the long trip. 


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“I’ve also got a care package from family, but I also brought green chili from the Fresh Chile Company down in Cruces because you can’t be out in the middle of the ocean without green chili,” said Pfetzer. 

The race begins Monday. After the race, the team plans to sell the boat to raise even more money. We have put a link to their fundraising efforts.