Will to win: UBC Rowing is going for gold

Through gifts in their wills, the Gold for Life committee is propelling UBC Rowing to be international contenders.

On an overcast winter morning, a UBC Women’s Varsity rowing crew is on the Fraser River. To say it’s chilly is an understatement — but that doesn’t stop practice. 

Over the past five years, the women’s team has secured the national championship two times, while the men’s team has had significant success with their own three titles. The University of British Columbia’s rowing program has shaped champion athletes and resilient leaders for over a century. 

Watching the crew from the John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse are four members of the Gold for Life committee. In 1998 the Gold for Life committee began fundraising to build the state-of-the-art boathouse for UBC Rowing. They’re meeting on this February morning to catch up, reminisce — and plan. 

Martin Gifford, a UBC alum involved with the rowing program since 1959, says that the facility has been “a game-changer” for UBC Rowing. 

Committee member Ken Teskey, whose son started rowing at St. George’s School — a partner with UBC at the boathouse — saw the impact the sport had on his son and became more involved with UBC Rowing and Gold for Life’s mission. 

“Our goal is to provide our team with the resources they need to shine on the global stage,” says Ken. “UBC has had a successful program since the boathouse opened 15 plus years ago — and became Canada’s dominant university rowing program.” 

But the Gold for Life crew aren’t ready to ease up. They’re thinking even more significantly — with international competition as the goal. Committee member, alum, and former UBC rower Peter Jackson explains. 

“The UBC Rowing program has just set out a new strategic plan — an effort to move the program from arguably the best in Canada to one of the world’s top 12 university rowing programs. And it’s going to take funding to do that.” 

Martin Gifford stresses the importance of legacy giving to ensure the program’s future success. “We’re not just giving money today — we’re making plans to leave a lasting impact through our wills. We want to ensure that this legacy of excellence continues for generations.” 

Warren Beach, who experienced the transformative power of UBC Rowing firsthand, explains his involvement in Gold for Life. 

“This sport has given me so much — it’s just invaluable,” he says. “That, for me, has been critical in creating a feeling that I want to give back. It was really enhanced by seeing my son go through this sport … and seeing his personal growth.” 

Peter Jackson echoes those sentiments — and adds that legacy giving to UBC Rowing is the way forward for the next generation. “We want to ensure that future students have the same incredible opportunities we did.” 

Like the Gold for Life crew, you can support your passion with a legacy for the future. Contact UBC Gift & Estate Planning to learn how you can make a lasting impact.