The Cause: Whitewater paddling and other outdoor sports for young adults with cancer
The Instigator: Brad Ludden
The Method: First Descents introduces cancer-fighters to outdoor challenges, empowering them to paddle, climb and surf beyond their diagnosis, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same. The experience offers them the opportunity to regain confidence and self-reliance often lost to cancer and allows healing to happen naturally and organically—without forced conversations, structured group sessions or therapy. The program is free, including travel scholarships when needed.
More on First Descents: Story
The Cause: Healing wounded spirits through kayak fishing
The Instigator: Jim Dolan.
The Method: Heroes on the Water serves all military personnel who have been wounded, injured or disabled. What looks like a day trip of paddling and fishing for wounded vets is something much deeper. Being on the water gives soldiers a feeling of peace and freedom from their wounds—an experience that "coalesces into personal revelations that while the wounds may have closed one door, there are other doors to explore." HOW facilitates that healing by bringing wounded veterans together with experienced anglers in 35 chapters around the country.
More on Heroes on the Water: Story
The Cause: Restoring local watersheds
The Instigator: David and Melissa Rohm
The Method: Engage the local paddling community to help restore and protect Pennsylvania’s natural water systems. PWP organizes kayakers and canoeists to help with habitat restoration and watershed cleanups. The organization also monitors local watershed conditions. PWP’s other core initiatives include reducing nonpoint source pollution and educating the public about the local watersheds.
More on Paddle Without Pollution: Website
The Cause: Kayaking as therapy for wounded warriors and their families
The Instigators: Joe Mornini and Mike McCormick
The Method: Offer active duty service members and veterans opportunities to find healing and discover new challenges through whitewater. Military members wounded in battle often endure months of surgeries, physical and readjustment therapies and intense life changes. During these difficult times, many seek new challenges to break their daily treatment routine. Established in 2004 in Washington D.C., TRR gives wounded veterans a chance to improve their health, happiness and connection to nature. TRR works in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled Sports, USA.
More on Team River Runner: Story
The Cause: Using canoes as a medium for cultural and environmental education.
The Instigators: Adam Wicks-Arshack, John Zinser, Xander Demetrios, Pete Bruno, and Shane Turnbull
The Method: Students carve 30-foot dugout canoes and paddle them from the Pacific Ocean to the source of the Columbia River. This educational journey connects native children with the river and their traditional culture, which was based on the annual salmon runs that now stop at the Grand Coulee Dam. Voyages of Rediscovery hopes to start the public discussion of a fish ladder at the dam. The organization also builds birch bark canoes and facilitates educational expeditions throughout the Pacific Northwest.