Naiades Oncology Rowing
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Mission Statement

The Naiades Oncology Rowing program is committed to serving the physical and emotional needs of cancer survivors. Through our shared rowing experience, we find a means to maintain wellness for our bodies, and courage and determination for our spirit. We find healing on the water through the power of our commitment, and we hope to provide inspiration to all of those who face the challenges of cancer.

Who We Support

We currently support survivors who have faced cancer, or are currently in treatment. We provide physical conditioning, rehabilitation, education, and camaraderie.

Our mission is frustrated whenever fees present a barrier for those most in need of experiencing the best that Naiades has to offer. For this reason, the Board of Directors has established the Row It Forward Financial Support Scholarship Program, supported by a dedicated fund and on-going donations, for those who need financial assistance to participate in Naiades programs. An application is available here if you wish to apply for a scholarship.


  • Our Name
    • Naiades is pronounced nigh-a-deez or nez-a-deez. Singular would be nigh' ad. The Naiades were mythological water  nymphs or Greek goddesses who presided over waters that were said to have healing powers.  The naiad was intimately connected to its body of water, and its very existence seems to have depended on it. The waters over which Naiades presided were thought to be endowed with inspirational, medicinal, or prophetic powers.
  • Our Symbols
    • The Purple Ribbon…represents cancer of all types and patients / survivors of both genders.
    • The Oar…represents the water sport that will unite survivors, patients, and supporters. It is the symbol of strength and unity.
  • Our passion for rowing
    • Stems from the inherent challenges and benefits of the sport.
      • Physically
      • Mentally
      • Socially, with team affiliation
      • Practically, stretching our own will to succeed
  • Our membership
    • Is comprised of cancer survivors, the majority of whom had never rowed before. Many started after diagnosis or treatment.
    • Is guided by camaraderie, driven to focus on something challenging, and thrives on supporting each other.
    • Is expanding to include men now and youth in the future, when a solid foundation has been established.

2019 Naiades Board of Directors

Umbereen Mustafa

Umbereen, currently serving as President, joined the Board in 2010. She also serves as Chair of the Marketing / Fundraising Committee. She is a marketing professional with over 20 years of experience in consumer and business-to-business marketing. Umbereen is a passionate supporter of Naiades and its mission given the numerous people in her life that have been touched by cancer.

Debbie Cole

Debbie joined the Naiades Board in 2010 as Treasurer. She is currently a General Member of the Naiades Board and leads the Membership Committee. Debbie retired from Nixon Peabody and is a rower and survivor.

Kevin Peartree

Kevin is an attorney and partner with Ernstrom & Dreste, LLP. He and his wife Chris are the parents of two daughters. His connection to rowing began with his daughters’ participation in Mercy Crew while attending Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women. During his seven years of involvement with Mercy Crew, Kevin served as counsel for Mercy Crew, Inc., the parent-run governing body for the rowing program, and was a member of the Board of Directors for three years and president from 2012-2013.

Thomas Kidera

Tom is a General Member of the Naiades Board.

Laurie Phelps

Laurie is our Treasurer now serving her second term on the Naiades Board.

Judy Belle-Isle

Judy retired from the University of Rochester after a thirty-eight year career as a Registered Nurse. Born and raised in Rochester New York, Judy spent her summers at the family cottage on Conesus Lake where her love of the water was energized.

In 2012 Judy joined Naiades Oncology Rowing and soon realized that rowing was not just a great body workout but a team sport that both challenged and focused her. To Judy water is spiritual and relaxing and her happy place. Judy was active on the water and co-chair of Programming before joining the Board of Directors in 2019. Judy is serving her first term as Naiades Board Secretary.

Gunhilde Buschbaum

Gunhilde was born in Offenbach across the Main river from Frankfurt, Germany. From an early age, she was part of a local Ruderverein (rowing club). She learned sailing and sculling when she was a teenager. While she did not like competitive sculling, she loved the sport and has continued to scull recreationally ever since.

After becoming a high school teacher in Frankfurt, she decided she needed a greater challenge and took a chance to go to medical school in the U.S. After finishing her medical school at St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO, she went on for residency training in OB/GYN at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. There, she was also able to sail in the Charles River Basin. She moved to Rochester to pursue advanced training in Urogynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and later became the director of the URMC division of Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery, a position she held until her retirement in 2018.

Five years ago, Gunhilde was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer. Since, she has been actively involved in working with the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester (BCCR). She has a personal interest in issues related to improving quality of life in women with cancer.

Gunhilde is married and has two adult daughters. She is currently serving as a General Member of the Board.