by Miriam Chua
D. Watson (lower left), president of Cold Spring
Harbor Laboratory and Nobel Laureate, signs the
flagship Double Helix, to be raced by
Clark Eid (right) and Kurt Zimmermann (left).
The vessel will be used by the duo in the upcoming
Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome
in May. Watson won his Nobel Prize the 1953 co-discovery
of the structure of DNA: the Double Helix.
syndrome, a severe brain disorder that randomly strikes
one in 10,000 children is a devastating and heart-wrenching
illness. But a parent-team and one notable Nobel winner
are resolved to help eradicate this disease.
Eid and Mary Potter of Cheshire, Connecticut, were determined
to help their 8-year old daughter, Amanda, who suffers
from Rett syndrome. But resources for research and attention
for the condition is limited in the United States.
they conceived of a plan to raise both awareness and
research money for the disease. Their concept: a 2,348-mile
race down the Mississippi River, the longest non-stop
canoe/kayak marathon race in history. Beginning May
5th at Lake Itasca, MN and ending 3 weeks later at the
Gulf of Mexico, the event has been sanctioned by the
American Canoe Association and the United States Canoe
Association (USCATM). The USCATM will coordinate the
event with Guinness World Records.
in the race will use only human-powered boats to travel
the river non-stop, around the clock, in the pursuit
of a world record. Eid hopes to raise more than $1 million
for the International Rett Syndrome Association's Permanent
Research Fund and Rett Syndrome Research Foundation,
two non-profit organizations who fund research for Rett
will participate in the race with his kayaking partner,
Kurt Zimmermann. But no ordinary boat would do for this
scientist and devoted father: Eid has built his own
two-man kayak, the Double Helix,a 25-foot flagship
crafted from thousands of pieces of wood and aero-space
materials. The boat, named in honor of the genetic code,
includes 30 feet of intertwining rose vines, spelling
out the words "Amanda's Dream Keeper" in the
DNA peptide code.
Eid and Zimmermann brought the Double Helix to
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with an unusual request.
The duo, who exhibited the craft at the New York International
Boat Show and several other events, wanted the signature
of James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of
DNA (a double helix) to decorate the vessel. "What
would be better than a Nobel prize-winner signing the
boat that his discovery inspired," said Eid. "We
are grateful to Dr. Watson for his discovery, but most
of all, his support of our event."
year-old Watson, an active outdoorsman, was honored
by the request and impressed by the vessel. "It's
a beautiful boat and a wonderful cause," said
Watson. "These resourceful men will do a great
deal to raise attention about Rett syndrome, and I
salute their devotion and ambition."
symbolism was later added to the flagship Double
Helix when Watson's life-long friend and co-discoverer
of DNA's double helix, Francis Crick from The Saulk
Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif.
signed his name alongside Watson's signature. "We
are honored by the good wishes of these great scientists,
and hope that great discoveries will continue to be
made," said Eid.
information about Rett syndrome or The Great Mississippi
River Race for Rett Syndrome, May 2001, visit Clark
Eid's web site, www.dreamkeeper.org