Lonnie Bedwell made national headlines when he successfully paddled the Grand Canyon of the Colorado without the benefit of eyesight. But his journey didn’t stop there. Bedwell explains, “After I ran the Grand Canyon for the first time it was very, very humbling to me. How many of these other blind veterans contacted me saying, ‘Do you think I can do that too?’ and I'm thinking in my mind, ‘I know you can do that.’ This short film by Seth Dahl documents the power of Team River Runner’s Outtasight clinics for vision impaired veterans.
From the filmmaker, Seth Dahl:
“Team River Runner holds an annual July ‘Outtasight’ kayaking clinic in Paradise Valley, Montana, for blind and visually impaired veterans. Blind kayaker, Lonnie Bedwell, helps recruit veterans for the program and encourages them with tricks and tips he’s learned along the way. Many of the 2016 participants haven’t even touched a kayak before, let alone run whitewater. By the end of the week they are charging through the rapids of Yankee Jim Canyon of the Yellowstone River. One of these participants is Mike Malarsie, a former Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) in the U.S. Air Force. In 2010 he was injured during a foot patrol in Afghanistan and now is completely blind. He heard about Lonnie Bedwell’s first blind descent of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in 2013 and was thrown back by the feat. As an adventurer himself he wanted to learn how to kayak and finally found time to make the ‘Outtasight’ clinic in 2016. Mike speaks of the trials and struggles of learning a new sport and brings to surface, a beginner’s emotions towards the thrill and pleasure of kayaking blind.”