On April 7, Mooney called a press conference at City Hall to speak about his journey and thank the country of Greece, which rescued him from the middle of the ocean when another unknown vessel refused.
On February 26, Mooney, a Forest Hills native, departed from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa in a third attempt to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. Mooney lost one brother to AIDS, and has another brother who has been diagnosed with the disease as well.
“I am returning from my third try to bring awareness and action to HIV/AIDS,” he said. “I come to New York today to say thank you for all the support I received.”
Mooney was rescued from the ocean 14 days after his boat began taking on water and he had to deploy his life raft.
While on the raft, Mooney had no food. (He does not like fish, so he didn’t eat it.) His only source of water was from a reverse osmosis kit provided by the Hydration Technology Innovations Company, which purifies the ocean water and made it safe for him to drink.
After several attempts to set off an S.O.S message, his prayers were finally answered.
“When I saw the light of the ship it was like seeing a guiding star,“ Mooney said.
Once the Amver alert was received, it only took about one hour for the Greek-owned ship MV Norfolk to reach Mooney’s location, but the rescue took about five hours.
“The way the captain maneuvered that ship over high seas was unbelievable,” Mooney said.
Amver is a global search-and-rescue operation. Commercial ships find and report the distress signals. It is then sent to the Coast Guard, which sends out a coordination team as soon as possible and stays in communication with the distressed party.
“No call goes unanswered,” said Beverly Howard, the Amver Alert marketing officer of the United States Coast Guard.
The MV Norfolk was headed to St. Louis, Brazil, and took Mooney along. He stayed for about two weeks before making his finally journey home.
At the press conference, Mooney thanked his doctor, Alexander Lupenko, for taking care of all the possible medications and vaccines he needed for his journey. Without his medical records on hand he would not have been able to enter Brazil where he was saved.
However, Mooney’s biggest gratitude came when Evangelos Kyriakopoulos, the Consul of Greece joined him.
“I am very honored to represent my country of Greece with Victor,” said Kriakopoulos. “He is a courageous man and it is a pleasure to know him.”
Mooney spoke about the country of Greece with great conviction and appreciation.
“I want to thank the entire country, not just the people involved in my rescue,” said Mooney. “They are people of true love for humanity and I cannot thank them enough.”
Mooney explained that his gratitude for the country is so big because before the MV Norfolk arrived, a cargo ship passed him by, looked at him in the ocean alone, and turned around and left.
Mooney returned home to his wife and four children on April 2.
“The thoughts of my family are what kept me going,” said Mooney. “I had to remember to brush my teeth so I can come back to tell my son to do the same.”
Mooney will continue to be an HIV/AIDS activist, but will not partake in another cross-ocean trip. His first attempts were in 2006 and 2009.
“HIV/AIDS virus is a very dangerous virus, killing people from both sides of the ocean,” said Mooney. “I will continue to spread awareness for many years to come.”