When Chris Ryan started looking for places to row in Pittsburgh, in the early 1980s, he learned the nearest boathouse was outside the city. So Ryan, a former member of MIT's crew team and founder of Geo-Solutions, an environmental engineering firm in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, decided to build one. In 1984, he and a few fellow rowers formed the Three Rivers Rowing Association and began raising money from local nonprofit groups and universities. Since then, the association has raised $4 million and built two boathouses and a storage facility on the Allegheny River. Ryan's group now hosts 10 high school crew teams, three college teams, and some 300 recreational rowers, and also runs programs for disabled people and minority youth. Ryan, for his part, rows six days a week. "I love being on the river and seeing the sun rise over downtown Pittsburgh," he says.

Branching out

Ryan, seated in the front of the boat at right, is starting a second rowing association, near his vacation home in Vero Beach, Florida.

Accolades

The Three Rivers Rowing Association won USRowing's Club of the Year award in 2002.

Personal best

Ryan's crew team placed second in the men's eight event at the 2009 Masters National Championships.