San Juan County deputies complete Atlantic expedition for a special cause

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three San Juan County deputies traveled across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Canary Islands to Antigua and Barbuda in the West Indies, for a special cause.

It wasn’t just an ordinary trip, though. SJCSO Capt. Mark Pfetzer, Lt. Jarrod Slindee and retired Sgt. Mike Hogue rowed across the Atlantic, carrying all of their necessary food and supplies.

Finally, after 51 days, 17 hours and 18 minutes, they made it across.

“You know the lows were low. I’ve never been in any type of physical or mental exhaustion like that so it was good to see what my limits are and things of that nature,” Lt. Slindee said.

The 3,000-mile journey is part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, also called “The World’s Toughest Row.” Teams from around the world compete to complete the daunting task, including Team Guardian.

Their name highlights their daunting journey and its purpose as an awareness campaign for an under-discussed issue.

“First responder, mental wellness and suicide prevention. Jarrod and I are both first responders, we’re both law enforcement and we’re working for all first responders,” Captain Pfetzer stated, “Not just law enforcement, but fire, EMS, dispatch – and even corrections can be included in that first responder-type fam.”

Team Guardian was rowing on behalf of Guardian Initiatives, a Farmington-based nonprofit that primarily serves first responders in the Four Corners. Guardian Initiatives works to prevent suicide by raising funds and awareness for training and treatment for all those on the front lines.

As their families greeted them in Antigua and they headed home, the team learned they raised enoug money.

Although they won’t be rowing across the Atlantic again any time soon, Team Guardian says they’re continuing their mission.

If you’d like to learn more about Guardian Initiatives, click here.