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February 16, 2011

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February 16, 2011

Summer of 2010 was probably one of the toughest times, if not the toughest, in my cancer journey. While my treatments and most of my surgeries were over, the emotional term-oil cancer would cause was only just beginning. Through out my fight I was in warrior mode. I was determined to beat this disease and leaving my young family behind wasn't an option. Once the fight was over and life started to get back to "normal" I found myself suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. All of the emotions that I refused to let in while in the heat of the fight came straight to the surface and all at once. It was so hard to sort through everything and it came on so quickly that I felt very overwhelmed and lost in my feelings. I felt like I went from a warrior to a scared child overnight.

River Discovery showed me that the scariest part was already over. I fought my battle and won so life could only get better from there. River Discover provided a structured and safe atmosphere where I could go outside of my comfort zone almost daily, face fears, and prove to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to. It showed me that although I had cancer, it didn't have me and things I used to be terrified of were nothing compared to the battle that I had already fought, and won.

I took rapids head on in an inflatable kayak (something I would have never done before), flipped the kayak, and swam the rapid. The fear of doing so is what kept me away from kayaks, yet once I faced it and lived through it, I came out the other side feeling empowered to face more fears.

I repelled down the side of a steep rock cliff and faced my huge fear of heights.

I went an entire week using a pack in/pack out toilet, soaping up while standing in the middle of a 5 gallon bucket, set up my own tent nightly, and lived with much less than I ever imagined possible.

I enjoyed some of the best meals I've ever had - all of which I didn't have to cook, clean up after, or prepare.

I enjoyed nature hikes and was astonished by the passion and knowledge the guiding company had for the river and the land. The history lessons alone would have made the trip great.

Finally, I met a group of amazing survivors both young and old, men and women, which inspired and encouraged me along the way. We were all from different walks of life and most of our paths would have never crossed had we not experienced this incredible journey together. I still keep in touch with many and I walked away with the realization that cancer is cancer. It doesn't matter what kind you had, you still connect and understand other survivors on a level that no one else can.

Thank you so very much for a once in a lifetime trip and a week long adventure that I will remember for the rest of my life!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

By being a participant of their 2010 Adult River Discovery raft trip, I know first hand how life changing a week on the river with other survivors can be. It was truly incredible.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The only change I would make would be to win the lottery so I could give this organization a large lump sum of funds every year to ensure so many more would be able to experience the healing that that this organization has given me.

February 12, 2011

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February 12, 2011

I work on the Salmon River where the camp takes place. From my experience being on a rafting trip, I can only imagine what beauty and healing it brings to cancer survivors. Many organizations provide funds and services to those who are dealing with cancer, but clearly it is just as important to empower those who charge through their disease and give them a good foundation for the recovery process.
I through and through support this organization because the experiences that are provided for the attendants will last them for the duration of their lives. I know my adventures both playing and working on the Salmon have and will impact me for years to come.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

donating and knowing that my money is going to a great cause that rejuvenates cancer survivors in a place very dear to my heart.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

help make more than one trip per age group per year. The more people getting/knowing about this opportunity the better!

More feedback...

Was your donation impactful?

Definitely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

July 21, 2010

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Review from Guidestar
July 21, 2010

I have served as medical director since the inception of River Discovery, and have participated in the Teen River trip the past two years. This is the most unique "Cancer Camp" experience that I am aware of. It is a true wilderness high adventure on the beautiful Salmon River, with all the challenges and opportunity for growth that this entails. This allows for individual and group growth through challenging outdoor physical encounters. Any other "cancer camp" that I'm aware of involves a fairly regimented activity schedule, and usually is based out of a central "camp" where campers stay in cabins. On River Discovery the camps are in a different spot along the river each night, with daily opportunities to navigate new whitewater rapids, swim, hike, climb, rappel, star gaze and so much more!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

having the time away with these kids in a different environment is an unparalleled experience, and helps to expand our doctor-patient relationship in positive ways. It also rejuvenates me, and allows me to “recharge my batteries” for the year.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the unique nature of the river trip, which sets this apart from all other "cancer camps".

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Top notch. These are the best in their field.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Provide the unparalleled experience for cancer patients in perpetuity.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 22, 2010

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Review from Guidestar
June 22, 2010

I was recruited by a friend and colleague to volunteer as a nurse practitioner and mental health professioal for the adult trip in September 2009. Having written my Master's research project on the therapeutic effects of wilderness, I expected a good experience. The reality was, however, so much better that I had imagined. I felt kind of guilty by the end of the trip for having had such a good time! I felt personally renewed and reinvigorated, as if the windows of my mind, body and soul had just been opened to a refreshing breeze. I felt calm and alert and happy to be alive! The guides' expertise is blended with such a sense of fun that it is possible to truly and deeply relax at the same time that you are challenged by the river setting, knowing you are safe in their hands. We floated whitewater and flatwater, swam, hiked, fished, climbed, soaked in hot springs, laughed, ate great food, talked around the campfire and slept under the stars. I saw the participants come alive as they tried out new skills like paddling kayaks, or as they enjoyed well loved hobbies like photography. I saw them compare their scars from treatment and talk about losing their hair. I saw them face down what scared them and helped each other do the same. I saw them emerge victorious! It was beautiful and truly inspiring and I felt so grateful to be a part of it that I joined the Board to help make this experience possible for more people.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I still feel great when I remember the September trip. II also enjoy offering this experience to cancer survivors. Serving on the Board has brought me in contact with a dedicated group of people who want to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

We would like to provide this experience to as many people as possible. We want to grow the program and spread the word!

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the opportunity to combine the incomparable beauty of the Main Salmon River and the fun of a river trip with an experience that leaves everyone, guides, volunteers and participants, feeling stronger and more confident in themselves.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

kind, professional, capable, fun-loving.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

At a time when global weather patterns make the great outdoors look like a threatening environment, we could help people rediscover their innate connection to the natural world and their ability to benefit from being in it, and desire to protect it.

Ways to make it better...

I'd like to see as many people as possible enjoy these trips, with no empty slots.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Growing the program and getting the word out.

One thing I'd also say is that...

One of the most beautiful elements of a river trip is the sense of community that develops over the week. There are numerous parallels to everyday life, and one of them is that helping one another get down the river is a great way to live.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 11, 2010

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Review from Guidestar
June 11, 2010

Great people, great program leaders and an unbelievably beautiful and serene setting to clear your head, soak in the sun and see what adventures come from new friends and one of the best river canyons in Idaho. So much better than you'd ever imagine!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've seen the shine in participants faces after 5 relaxing days on the river. I can feel it myself. There is truly no better place to find peace and beauty. After my dad, Joe, passed away from cancer I want to share this the way he always did.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

na

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Hearing the personal stories of trails of being sick, how each found strength and seeing each embrace the river canyon. The enthusiasm and appreciation of participants is unmatched.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

The kind of people that have infectious enthusiasm. They really care deeply about these goals and helping others heal from the trails of being sick.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Sponsor 10,000 cancer survivors for a life changing experience in the beautiful Idaho backcountry.

Ways to make it better...

no idea.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Getting the word out that these trips are as challenging, easy and relaxing as you chose. Such an opportunity for healing and adventure!

One thing I'd also say is that...

My dad would be proud of the energy and care people have donated to this cause. Thanks so much to everyone involved. Amy Tonsmeire

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

June 4, 2010

From August 2005 through 2006 my husband Joe Tonsmeire was going through treatments for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. We both expereinced challenges firsthand, I am a breast cancer survivor and Joe lost his battle to cancer in March 2007. We spent many days and nights at St. Luke's Hospital in Boise, Idaho. The 4th Floor accommodated not only alults but also had a wing for children with cancer. After continually seeing these young people fighting for their battles, we couldn't help but want to do something for them. We started suppling their play room with a mosaic teacher and supplies so the kids would have something fun to look forward to. After a time we wanted to do more. We were longtime whitewater rafting outfitters and ranchers from Lemhi, Idaho. We envisioned an adventure program where participants addressed the emotional and physical challenges cancer survivors face after treatment. One thing lead to another and the organization has evolved into a river based program offer a 6-day rafting trips, one to teens and one for adults.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

participating in the river adventures and saw first hand the amazing healaing that nature and the river has on participants. One young adult, challenged by river running, overcame not only the physical difficulty but his emotional stresses of his cancer.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I wanted to give some interpretation of the reason behind the founding of River Discovery.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing what a difference these river experiences make to individuals challenged with cancer. Being in nature and on the river changes their perspective of what they can do and accomplish. And it also helps them sort out what their priorities in life are.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

incredible ~ professional, fun-loving and sincere in their concern and and desires to enable each participant to get as much as possible out of the trip.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the lives of so many young people affected by cancer, helping them to cope and renew their individuality and self confidence.

Ways to make it better...

we could take more teenagers down the river.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

finding the participant and getting their transportation to our remote location.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 3, 2010

Serving on the board for River Discovery has been a rewarding and eye-opening experience. This relatively new organization is made up of highly motivated board members (many of whom are health professionals and experienced river guides), staff, and volunteers providing a really valuable - and fun - wilderness experience for cancer survivors. When we, as the board, have read and heard the feedback from trip participants, the therapeutic effects and joy of having participated in this outdoor experience are reflected time and again. This board puts a lot of effort into planning, policy development, and fundraising efforts to make sure that the integrity of the trips provided continues to improve. It's been a real pleasure to be able to help make this happen. And we have fun doing it!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing how the local community responds so postively to the program and the fundraising events. Folks here love the Salmon River and want to share the experience of it's beauty and wildness.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

so very motivated and hard working as well as being really fun people. These are people who care about what they are doing and are making a difference in individual's lives. There is a lot of skill and knowledge among the staff and volunteers.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 1, 2010

My first connection with River Discovery was as a participant on one of their Salmon River adventures for cancer survivors in the summer of 2008. It was a phenomenal experience. The staff, the river guides, the whole process was a great transitional time for me. Experiencing the river with qualified individuals and other cancer survivors has had a great impact on me. I highly recommend anyone who recently, or even not so recently, experienced cancer to look into this week long adventure.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

As a cancer survivor/participant in 2008, a volunteer in 2009, and a board member in 2010, I have been part of the personal life changes aspects of the River Discovery program.

More feedback...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 22, 2010

River Discovery is a wonderful organization. They provide emotional as well as physical healing to cancer survivors. I have volunteered several times, and it warms my heart to watch their courageous clients receive a warm welcome, and a fundamentally life changing experience.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

by watching the improved outlook that clients have after participating in their journey on the river. Client feedback is gratifying to hear, their experiences means so much to them. They are examples of strength that I admire.

More feedback...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

May 12, 2010

River Discovery is a river rafting trip which serves a unique niche - adult cancer survivors and teen survivors (who travel with the parents.) This organization provides an Idaho raft trip for cancer survivors. Most of our group had recently completed treatment, so it was a particularly welcome relief to leave behind the daily medical grind and also the cell phones, e-mail.... We were able to focus on living. My son and I, both having undergone cancer recurrences in 2007, attended this trip in 2008. The River Discovery team is phenomenal, with a true love of the river and an appreciation for the environment and local lore. The outfitters provided top-notch equipment and phenomenal food including fresh fish, meat, vegetables and fruit. Our six days on the river involved idly riding the raft, the challenge of paddling a kayak thru the rapids, fishing and hiking, and exploring settlements and native American writing on the walls. After a personal loss to cancer, the River Discovery founders and board have succeeded in their goal of giving back by providing a unique experience for cancer survivors. It was apparent that this is a costly trip to outfit. The rafts, kayaks, camping gear and food not only need to be purchased and maintained, but also transported several hours to and from Salmon. I heartily endorse this nonprofit as worthy of your support.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The unique experience of spending a week on the river, camping under the stars, making new friends from across the country, all the while putting cancer on a back burner.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

phenomenal and first class. They truly knew the river, loved the local lore and appreciated the environment, all with attention to safety.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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