An African-American man nears his New York homecoming after months rowing a one-man boat from Africa to the U.S. in order to raise HIV awareness.
Victor Mooney has made three earlier attempts to cover the 5,000 miles between Africa and New York. His first attempt, in 2006 ended with his homemade boat sinking; the second, in 2009, had to be aborted when his fresh water system failed; in 2011 he ended up spending 10 days in a lifeboat after the main vessel took on water.
His effort, known as the Goree Challenge —The Spirit of Malabo, is a project of the South African Arts International, whose mission is to promote multimedia events, facilitate worldwide cultural understanding, and to increase awareness of the global pandemic of HIV and AIDS.
His latest attempt began in February of 2014. After making many stops on the way, Mooney has now reached Sneads Ferry, North Carolina, where he is resting before setting off to complete the final 500 miles of his journey. Mooney began his journey off the coast of Africa in the Canary Islands and has not had an easy trip. During the hundred days at sea, Mooney has endured a shark attack, being raided by Haitian pirates, and losing close to 100 pounds.
"I never gave up," Mooney said. "With the Heavenly Father with me, I'm just asking for continued permission to continue this row."
Mooney has had two brothers are HIV-positive. The first passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1983. His other brother has been living with HIV for 20 years now.
"This is a mission that I've embraced," Mooney told ABC News.
While he hopes to reach New York by the end of the summer, Mooney is still focused on the reason for his voyage: raising awareness (and money) for an HIV cure.
His efforts have garnered international attention and the support of numerous corporate sponsors including Energizer, FIFA, Right Guard, and Fed Ex.