A few years ago while hanging out with paddlers from a local paddling club I saw a post on their web site asking for help with a Team Riverrunner event. Jim Riley, the coordinator of the S. E. Pa. chapter asked for volunteers to help with an upcoming white water trip. Specifically to help disabled vets move their gear to and from the water and with help getting in and out of their boats as needed. When I read the post my immediate thought was, "been there, done that". I spent the last 6 months of 1968 in Oakland Naval Hospital on a ward of 40. I was one of two patients that had all 4 limbs on that ward. I spent a lot of time helping my fellow patients get around. Piggy backing some, pushing wheel chairs, assisting getting on and off buses, etc. The most impacting memory is when I suggested to one of the patients that I had pushed to the hospital pool that I push him, still in his chair, into the deep end of the pool to see if he could wheel it across the bottom. He said, "do it". Short version... that event ended starting a lot of guys doing that and swimming and having fun. Guys that thought for the most part, life for them as they knew it was over and there was nothing they could do other than sit. It wasn't until I started working with TRR and met some of the therapists that I heard about 'Recreational Therapy' and realized that was what I was doing 39 yrs ago as a patient in a military hospital.
So when I saw Jim's post I contacted him and volunteered to help even though I really had no idea of what Team Riverrunner was all about. Since then I've become a member both as a disabled vet and volunteer and earned my Level 3 White Water Instructor Certificate from ACA 2 yrs. ago. I've worked as both instructor and safely boater on many, many trips and have also encouraged our chapter to start doing flat water trips to 'whet, or wet the appetites' of new paddlers. I'll be running those trips this summer. I've made countless friends from all over the country that are vets, volunteers, and therapists and keep in touch constantly. We work hard and play hard but I don't think I can really express how rewarding it is to see these guys and gals accomplish a goal such as running a river in a kayak with such great smiles and ramped up confidence. It's truly a reward that cannot be purchased with cash but your donations are what fund these trips and the gear needed to get our vets butts in boats. We truly thank you for your support!
I started Voluteering with Team River Runner over a year ago. My favorite part is giving back to our Veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. I love teaching them the sport that I am passionate about. The willingness of the Veterans to learn is what motivates me keep helping and donating to this great organization.
This is a fantastic non-profit and everyone in the organization truly cares about serving veterans. This group gives an opportunity for veterans to learn a new hobby and experience the outdoors. TRR goes out of their way to accommodate and give returning veterans the best experience they can have kayaking.
Following the loss of my leg and a stroke, TRR took me from a hospital bed & wheelchair into a kayak; taught me roll that kayak; then taught me to paddle that kayak down increasingly challenging whitewater until I was able to paddle some of the most difficult water in the country.
They didn't stop there! Through it all, TRR made sure I understood what I was being taught until I was competent enough to become a certified kayak instructor, myself. And it all came full circle, as I was able to introduce paddlesports to the "next generation" of injured service members.
Team River Runner saved me, gave me renewed purpose... and for that I will be forever grateful. See the videos below if you're not convinced
Team River Runner has helped my autistic son more social and gives him something to look forward to each week. Moreover it has given my son and I an activity we can learn and and participate in together. We started just as a "good deal outreach" opportunity Team River Runner offers the Ft. Belvoir community, and it has turned into a family activity.
From Volunteering to becoming a Staff member the past 10 years with Team River Runner have been my absolute best. This is so much more than an organization, this is a family of dedicated and genuine Staff, Volunteers, and Participants.
Awesome experiences and great group! I learn something new every time I attend a session or outing.
As the Fredericksburg Virginia Chapter Coordinator, Eastern Regional Area Coordinator, and newly appointed OJT Veteran Program Administrator I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of this amazing Team River Runner organization.
From the very first day I started I could tell that Team River Runner truly cares not only about our Recovering Warriors, Disabled Veterans, and their family members, but also about how we represent ourselves as a program as we strive to be of service in whatever way that we can make a difference! Its about saying Yes we can help with that when saying No might be the easier path.
From the National Staff all the way down to the volunteers within each chapter it feels like a family and I'm so honored to be just a small part of it. On this day of inauguration and the desire to unite our great country I would highly recommend this program to everyone looking for a reason to get involved with something greater than themselves. Together we can make a difference!
Team River Runner has been a great inspiration and career enhancer. I knew nothing about kayaking but as a veteran and reservist, I knew that facing challenges and conquering fear would make me a better soldier. Also it was my first opportunity to volunteer to help wounded warriors which I might even be one day. I have learned a great deal from the dedicated leaders of TRR Fredericksburg Chapter. I always look forward to safely learning the skills needed to control the kayak as well as the rewards of helping others while using those skills.
Team River Runner has been a great way to learn an exhilarating new sport, but also build fantastic camaraderie within the team.