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From Africa to NYC in a row boat

FEB. 10 — A 41-year-old man plans cross the Atlantic from Senegal on Africa’s west coast to New York City in a home-built 24-foot plywood rowing boat to raise awareness about AIDS prevention.

Victor Mooney spent the last five months finishing his red-and-white boat in a garage in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., the Boston Globe reports. “I wanted to leave from Africa because this is the center of the AIDS crisis,” Mooney says in the newspaper.

Mooney plans to begin his journey by diving into the water from a beach on Gorée Island — where a prison and auction site once were located for captured Africans bound for the slave trade in the Americas — and swimming to his boat nearby, the report says.

Mooney, a Roman Catholic, named his boat John Paul the Great after the late pope, and is dedicating his effort to the late Cardinal John O’Conner of New York, according to the report. Mooney reportedly considers abstinence the best approach to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. One of Mooney’s brothers died of AIDS in 1983, and another lives with the disease.

Mooney hopes his efforts will also help raise $1 million for charity, the report says. Companies like Snapple and New England Ropes, of Fall River, Mass., have signed on as co-sponsors. West Marine donated fittings, radios and other electronics.

— Jason Fell