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"A Most Beautiful Thing" By Arshay Cooper

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Growing up on Chicago’s Westside in the 90’s, Arshay Cooper knows the harder side of life. Street corners full of gangs, hallways of his apartment complex haunted by drug addicts, his mother a recovering addict. Arshay spent his school days in the home-ec kitchen dreaming of becoming a chef. And then one day he notices a boat in the school lunchroom, and a poster that reads “Join the Crew Team.”

Having no idea what the sport of crew is, Arshay decides to take a chance. This decision to join is one that will forever change his life, and those of his fellow teammates. Arshay and his teammates begin to come together to learn how to row--many never having been in water before.  While Arshay and his teammates face adversity at every turn, A Most Beautiful Thing is the inspiring story about a most unlikely band of brothers that form a family, and forever change a sport and their lives for the better.  It delivers an important and timely message of social justice and inclusion.

Arshay Cooper is a rower, author, motivational speaker, and volunteer for numerous community outreach organizations. He works with nonprofits focusing on opening the boathouse doors to everyone, and he was the recipient of a 2017 USRowing Golden Oars Award.