Lots of companies are drawing on kayaking imagery to promote their brands, and now kayakers have gotten a direct benefit from that promotion.

Filming recently completed on the Zimmer Orthopedics Sales Success Kayaking Film. It featured former freestyle C-1/OC-1 National and World Champion Brian Miller on the Narrows of the Green River, with filming done by Spencer Cooke of Effort Inc.

Zimmer is the global leader in the orthopedic device industry. The company decided to put together a global internal motivational film featuring their six most successful sales representatives across the country and using metaphors and parallels to Class I – VI whitewater kayaking. Interviews featured Zimmer's top reps with back drops such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood sign..

Rich Greenhagen, president of Greenhagen Medical, which has distribution rights for Zimmer's products in the Carolinas, chose the Narrows of the Green River as the perfect location for the film.

Filming took three days on the Green. Greenhagen hiked in to enjoy the sheer beauty of the Green River Gorge, and to introduce the film. Class I –VI whitewater was introduced and then run by Brian Miller with Spencer Cooke directing and calling the shots. Gorilla was run a total of five times; Go Left and Die and Sunshine were run four times.

Now here’s where the story takes a twist. Brian Mille, a friend of Greenhagen’s, said when Greenhagen first approached him with the idea for the project he was excited about it. As he thought more about it, he saw the project as an opportunity do something for the larger boating community.

“Like much of my boating family in Asheville and across the globe, I was still in mourning for Daniel,” Miller said. He was referring to Daniel DeLavergne, a kayaker and filmmaker who died last spring after being hit by a train. “I wanted to honor the legacy of my fallen friend, and preserve one of his, mine, and many others’ favorite places in the world to paddle for generations to come.”

He suggested to Cooke that they underbid their services for the project and ask that Greenhagen and Zimmer donate $5,000 to the Green River Access Fund in memory of DeLavergne. Cooke agreed and they proposed it to Greenhagen, who agreed to donate the money.

See video from this shoot at Effort.TV
Read the Effort TV blog about this project

And here’s the last twist: After hiking into the spectacular Green River Gorge and watching Miller run Gorilla, Greenhagen shouted down to Miller in the eddy that he was going to double his donation from $5,000 to $10,000.

“I tried to yell a ‘Hell Yeah,’ and ‘Thank You,’ but my voice cracked,” Miller said. ” All I could do was float in that eddy flooded with emotions, looking up at Gorilla, with Spencer and Raymond eddied out at the notch, remembering all the great times we have had on that river and missing Daniel.”

And Miller has a challenge for the rest of us:
“Daniel’s death has changed a lot of how I think about paddling, and I hope it can change your way of thinking as well,” he wrote after the experience. “We need to celebrate each other and our rivers. . . . We as paddlers are the true stewards of the river and we each need to take ownership for our part in conserving our playgrounds. . . .

“I would challenge every paddler and outdoorsman out there to take ownership. If you are involved in a project concerning the river, consider how you could broaden your the efforts to befit the river. If you are associated with a corporate organization, find out how they determine where they will make their charitable donations for year and ask them to consider donating to the river. If your kids go to camp, find out what the organizations are doing to preserve their resources they use to generate income from. Put a trash bag in your boat and pick up litter during and after your run. Not only is it good for the river, it is good Karma, and if the bag is airtight it will make for good flotation if you swim ☺.

“Go big or go small, just go do something positive for the river. We all miss Daniel and in mine and Spencer's simple way this was our opportunity to let our actions speak for themselves.”

“Thanks to Rich Greenhagen and the fine folks of Zimmer for their kindness and generous donation to the Green River Access fund in Daniel’s memory.

“Thanks to those that helped with the project, Liquid Logic, Astral Buoyancy, Immersion Research, AquaBound, Shred Ready, Spencer Cooke of Effort Inc., Raymond Cotton, Abhay Patel [Green River Sherpa], my family for their support, and Daniel’s family for allowing us to honor their son.”