UW News

November 9, 2023

‘Pull Together’ campaign launches ahead of ‘The Boys in the Boat’ theatrical release

Ahead of the Dec. 25 release of “The Boys in the Boat,” the University of Washington — joined by The Seattle Times, Microsoft and additional community partners — is launching a six-week “Pull Together” campaign to support young people and celebrate the civic spirit of our city and region.

Pull Together: The 1936 crew made history. So can you.

Learn more about the Pull Together campaign at uw.edu/pulltogether

Launching Nov. 11, the campaign is designed to encourage final gifts toward the community renovation of the historic ASUW Shell House on the Montlake Cut, home to the 1936 rowing team that won Olympic gold; to support the excellence of UW Rowing; and to fund scholarships for students of modest means via the College Success Foundation and the UW’s Husky Promise.

“The story of the students from across Washington who against all odds won Olympic gold is a Northwest story of achievement — a reminder of the amazing things that can happen when we all pull together. We want to celebrate that and put a spotlight on the importance of empowering the young people of today, who come from modest backgrounds and want to achieve their dreams,” said University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce.

The “Pull Together” campaign takes inspiration from how the Seattle community rallied together to raise funds in 1936 to send the UW men’s rowing team to the Olympic Games in Berlin. The story — known worldwide due to the bestselling book by Daniel James Brown — richly describes the essence of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, a region with humble origins, grit and aspirations for grand impact. The UW Alumni Association has pledged $100,000 to match gifts of up to $500 made by current UW students, employees and retirees.

“One of my favorite parts of the story is what happened here in Seattle when the community learned that the Olympic committee didn’t have funds to send the boys to Berlin, and that the team from Penn might be sent in their place,” Brown, the book’s author, said. “We have this new opportunity — the ‘Pull Together’ campaign — to harness the energy of the story again to bring still more light and goodness into the world.”

Along with Cauce and Brown, Brad Smith, Kathy Surace-Smith and Frank Blethen are the founding leaders of the campaign. In a celebration of the 1936 effort, businesses, nonprofits and other organizations are encouraged to participate in the “Pull Together” campaign. One organization that is already reaching out to its members to join the campaign is the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“In 1936, the Chamber donated $5,000 to send the UW rowing team to Berlin, equivalent to $110,715 today, and we are excited to reprise our organization’s role in raising support and donations for this important milestone in our region,” said Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber. “We encourage all regional businesses and organizations to rally around this vision to support young people, celebrate this milestone together and set our sights on making this place we all love even better.”

The ASUW Shell House — located in an area once used by Coast Salish peoples as a canoe portage and built as a seaplane hangar for World War I — will be renovated as a student and community gathering space that shares and celebrates the place and the people who gathered there throughout its history.

The campaign officially launches during the UW home football game versus the University of Utah this Saturday. An official UW Rowing pregame tailgate in “The Zone” will be followed by in-game activities, including a screening of the official “The Boys in the Boat” trailer. Other activities planned for the “Pull Together” campaign include the Nov. 24 opening of an exhibit at MOHAI featuring artifacts from the team and tours of the ASUW Shell House on Nov. 25.

To learn more about how you can contribute to the “Pull Together” campaign, please visit: uw.edu/pulltogether.

For more information, contact Victor Balta at balta@uw.edu.