Fundraiser includes advance screening

Tribute to Joe Rantz aims to build house for homeless students

SEQUIM — “The Boys in the Boat” film directed by George Clooney will be shown in an advance screening in Clallam County on Friday, but attendance is by invitation only and sponsorships, which start at $1,000, are a fundraiser for the Joe Rantz Rotary Youth Fund.

The screening will not be at the Sequim High School, contrary to earlier reports. The place and time of day for the screening is not being announced publicly. The film will be followed by a gala at the Sequim Museum & Arts as part of fundraiser, A Tribute to Joe Rantz, who is a central figure in the film.

A Tribute to Joe Rantz aims to raise $750,000 to build a home for homeless teens, so they can have stability in safe living quarters to finish high school, according to the Sequim Sunrise Rotary website at https://joerantzrotaryyouthfund.org, where more information about the project, the film and opportunities for donations can be found.

Those interested in attending are told to email joerantzryf@gmail.com to gain invitations and then pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for the fundraiser.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (“MGM”) has provided the Joe Rantz Rotary Club with a courtesy screening of “The Boys in the Boat” in response to requests from Sequim High School students.

Neither MGM, its affiliates, nor anyone connected with the film is involved in any of the Joe Rantz Rotary Club’s fundraising efforts.

Those who are invited and secure sponsorships will be given information about how to attend the screening, according to Pat McCauley, the chair of the project for the Rotary Club.

The film, based on the book by Daniel James Brown, tells of the University of Washington rowing team’s capture of the Gold Medal while representing the United States at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Those games, often called “Hitler’s Olympics,” were expected to be won by Germans, historians say, so the team’s victory was a huge achievement.

Joe Rantz of Sequim, who struggled with homelessness — sleeping where he could, working odd jobs and still making good grades after he was abandoned by his father and stepmother — is central to the story and is played in the film by Callum Turner.

Rantz eventually moved to Seattle, graduated from Roosevelt High and earned an engineering degree at UW.

The Sequim High School Interact Club and Rotarians connected with Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures production partner Grant Heslov online, and they and school officials have been working on logistics for the screening for months.

Students also created a video earlier this year about the project and lobbied for a screening of the film locally to aid the fundraiser for homeless teens.

The vision for the Joe Rantz Rotary Youth House is that it would house 12 teens with room for three emergency drop-ins. A social agency would manage it, according to the Rotary website, and teens would have counseling, mentoring, internships and caring adults interact with them.

The stability would be provided until the teens graduated from Sequim High School and then scholarship support would be provided to help them move forward.

The need is well-documented, Rotarians say.

Over the past three years, Sequim High School has had between 170 and 300 homeless students, McCauley said. The count is probably low, she added, since students have to register as homeless to be counted and many do not want to register out of fear of being bullied.

Last year, the high school had 50 unaccompanied teens, McCauley said.

“Our goal is to get them to graduate from high school” and get a good start in life, she said.

“The biggest issue has been housing stability for them,” McCauley said. “If teens are bad, they go to juvenile detention or drug rehab. If they are just normal kids in bad circumstances, they have no options.”

She spoke of a teen she had worked with last year, a young woman whose stepfather, with whom she had a good life, died and she began living on her own with her two dogs — all that was left of her family.

She became emancipated and was working full time and attending Sequim High School while couch surfing, McCauley said.

“She’s going to college now,” McCauley said.

“That’s our goal, to try to help kids like this.

“They’re not bad kids,” McCauley added. “They are great kids. They just have bad living situations.”

Friday’s screening is not the first pre-screening for the film, which will be released to the general public on Christmas Day.

On Thursday, it will be screened at an invitation-only Seattle showing at SIFF Downtown, formerly known as the Cinerama, according to The Seattle Times.

UW is using the movie and book in a campaign to raise money for renovations to the 100-year-old Shell House, originally built during World War I by the U.S. Navy and later repurposed for the crew team, The Seattle Times said, adding that a full-sized replica of the Shell House was used in the movie in shooting in England.

Brown, the author, was a special guest of Clooney’s for a preview in Los Angeles in August, and Ana Mari Cauce, the president of the University of Washington, saw it in early November, according to The Seattle Times.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

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