Team River Runner (TRR) has helped me in more ways than I think I can name. So, let’s talk about the big one – TRR has helped me to heal.
You might not be able to see it when you meet me, but I am a little bit broken from my time in the Military. Sure, I have all the normal aches and pains that comes with the challenge of serving one’s country and those tend to slow me down a little, but there are some other injuries you simply don’t see when you look my way.
My experiences in the 82nd Airborne Division left me with some unseen injuries: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). As I age, the effects of these seem to creep in more and more to my daily life. Frankly, for a while there, things got pretty dark and scary.
My family and friends have been super-supportive, and I am very thankful for them, but there was a deep, dark trench across my path to recovery that kept me from being able to really heal. Those who were close to me could empathize, sympathize, lend an ear, but they simply couldn’t understand what I was really going through. The safety they provided me got me to that trench, but couldn’t get me across it.
TRR helped to bridge that trench.
As I got more and more involved in TRR, I met more and more people who shared a story similar to mine. I could talk frankly with them, watch them get up to that trench and somehow cross it. I watched some struggle harder than me and watched others succeed and grow and I thought, why not me? And, as I walked beside a couple of my closest friends as they struggled, I began to realize that it was not up to me to make a daring leap across this unknown chasm. I began to realize that my friends were laying bridges across the trench so I could cross in safety.
So, you might see a bunch of Veterans paddling down a river or across a lake, laughing and joking with one another and think, “how nice.” But what you don’t realize is that these paddlers are actually facilitating some incredible healing. Being able to share in these stories and be part of another person’s healing is an incredibly healing experience. All the counselors and medications in the world sometimes pales in comparison to just having the ear of someone who’s been there…who can understand the unspoken pieces of the story.
Thank you, Team River Runner!
This organization began by the love, care, and hard work of Joe and Nancy Mornini (teachers in Montgomery County, Maryland) who saw a need to help our most injured Vets find a mental and physical method for recovery. This comes with my highest ratings knowing funds are not only needed but will be used in ethically sound business decisions.
The April 28 - 30 2017 Eastern Regional Area Campout was absolutely awesome! We had a great time Kayak fishing and enjoying two beautiful lakes at Wilderness Presidential Resort in Spotsylvania VA. Over the weekend I think everyone who fished caught something! Fly tying and fly fishing was also popular. The whitewater folks had a great time, too, on the Rappahannock River. We got to meet many Team River Runner chapter members from West Virginia and Pennsylvania and like every TRR event everyone just seems like family. There was lots of laughing, talking, relaxing, and of course spending time on the water providing the companionship and therapy TRR is known for. Thanks to our regional coordinator, Lance, for all his hard work putting this event together, and to our participants and volunteers for an incredible weekend. Looking forward to next year's Campout!
Working with Team Riverrunner I've witnessed many positive changes in our veteran participants. From gaining physical strength to realizing potential to finding friendships, the organization turns the simple act of paddling a kayak into a way to regain functionality or just find enjoyment. TRR is all inclusive welcoming all vets and their family members and tailors the paddling experience to individual capabilities, wants, and needs. This is an awesome organization and I feel blessed to be a part of it.
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.
Team River Runner (TRR) has provided me with tremendous knowledge and confidence regarding kayaking. Moreover, I have thoroughly enjoyed helping with my Red Cross certified therapy dog at TRR events; and even my dog has learned to ride in a kayak! I've met some terrific people there.
First, they make you feel right at ease and very welcome when you first show. Then they help you through the paperwork and talk to; not just to get the necessary information, but to actually get to know you. Then everything they do starts with basic techniques and safety. They are a great bunch of folks doing great things. I direct everyone I know their way.
I just completed the annual Team River Runner South East Outta Sight Clinic,
that was held at Nantahala Outdoor Center in NC. I would like to commend the teams staff for a phenomenal event. I'm a Army veteran and I suffer from PTSD. Laura Dillion was patient enough and paired me with Katie Kessler whom eased every anxiety imaginable, being that I can't swim! She taught me priceless safety/survivability techniques that has changed my insecurities with kayaking. Later durning the clinic I was paired with Moses Alley my river guide and he surpassed all of my expectations as he navigated us down the Nantahala River, the family-friendly rapids are mild but exciting all while mesmerized with scenic views throughout the river It's imperative for all... to link up with TRR and learn the basics of Kayaking and or become a volunteer as I'm adamant that your life will be forever changed.
As a veteran, I found something special with Team River Runner. They have provided an opportunity to revisit one of the aspects that I miss most from my days in the service -- camaraderie!
It brings me back to the days of "mandatory fun," except that it is not mandatory and it is actually fun.
TRR has provided an opportunity for both my daughter and I to spend time on the river, learn and advance new skills, and bond. The quality of people that we have met and worked with is unparalleled.
I'm a Disabled Combat Vet, Multiple Tours, Special Operations / Civil Affair's / Infantryman: Ret US Army. 24 years 22 days.
PTSD/ Serious Depression, Suicidal, Anger: I've been paddling with TRR for over 4 years now. Whitewater Kayaker, ACA Level III White Water Instructor, NOC Certified Raft Guide, and now Co -Leader of the Fort Belvoir, VA TRR Chapter.
This is one of the BEST, places for Vet's who need HELP, to get help. Cuz, I am one who needed help,... I found the river, and the river keeps me going. TRR lets me give back to those, like me, who need Help. Whatever your issues, we have never not been able to get your "Butts in a Boat."
We operate on a shoe string budget:
Being not only a Veteran, but a person always looking for that since of belonging/team - Fredericksburg TRR has been a dream. That rare confluence of two great things, fellowship and the chance to help others. I love teaching others that true healing comes from helping others. The peace and tranquility of the water coming together with a challenge of an awesome sport. All of this has come from an awesome 501 C 3 charity that invited me in with nothing other than desire to give back to Veterans and their families. I am blessed to be apart of this group. Please come out and join us.
Team River Runner Fredericksburg VA is an amazing organization totally dedicated to providing fantastic kayaking opportunities to wounded, ill and injured service members, Veterans AND their families. TRR Fredericksburg was very welcoming right away and were very passionate about not only getting me in a kayak but also getting my wife and 7 yr old son in one as well. TRR Fredericksburg, in just a short 8 week period, worked diligently to get me ready to compete in the 2015 Triumph Games. All of the staff are very wonderful...volunteers are fantastic as well. I receive at least 1 email a week letting me know about the upcoming weekend's events and how to get involved. You really couldn't ask for a better organization.