Fallen firefighter becomes inspiration for Rice rowing coaches

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Almost two years ago, four Houston firefighters died battling a large motel fire. Now, one of those firefighters is serving as the inspiration for two Rice university coaches.

Those two men surprised that firefighter's mother Saturday by naming their boat after her daughter.

"It's gonna be small. It's gonna be determined, courageous and it will cross the Atlantic," said Mary Sullivan.

Mary is using words that epitomize her own daughter, fallen Houston firefighter Anne Sullivan, to describe the boat named in Anne's honor

Mary saw the boat at a fundraising cook-off in the Heights Saturday. All of the proceeds from the cook-off will go to four foundations set up in honor of Matthew Renaud, Robert Bebee, Robert Garner and Anne Sullivan. They died fighting a motel fire two years ago.

Now, Anne Sullivan is being honored as the namesake for the boat.

"To have a boat named after Anne, it means so much to me," said Mary. "To go after something so ambitious like that is wonderful."

Anne was a firefighter in Stafford with Michael Matson. He and David Alviar are rowing coaches at Rice University. They plan to row the 'Anne' across the Atlantic as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

It's a grueling, 3,000-mile race from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean Island of Antigua. They hope to win this race as they try to raise $400,000 to build a new home for the Rice crew team.

Two men will climb into a boat, named after a tough firefighter to cross a giant ocean..

"To go after something so ambitious like that is wonderful, especially for Rice University," said Mary.
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