Healing Military Veterans Through the Challenges of Kayaking
WESSER, N.C. (February 10, 2011) —Nantahala Outdoor Center celebrates the efforts of Team River Runner this month, donating close to $5000 of paddling equipment for the recovery of injured military veterans.
The donation will benefit the Johnson City, TN’s chapter of TRR, a non-profit organization established to help military personnel wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. NOC is donating an Ultimate Propel Kayak (pedal powered boat), an Ultimate Volt Kayak (battery powered boat), personal flotation devices, as well as other miscellaneous paddling items.
Established in August 2004 by kayakers in Washington DC, the nationwide organization of TRR is a primarily volunteer non-profit group designed to give military personnel “an opportunity to heal from profound psychological and physical wounds by exploring the challenges of kayaking,” notes the organization’s web site. TRR now serves discharged, retired and active duty military members of all ages and service history.
Since its inception in October 2009, the Johnson City chapter of TRR has led 40 military veterans through its paddling program, teaching them kayaking skills as an avenue to aid in their physical and emotional recovery after being wounded during various generations of military service. Chapter organizer Bill Finger notes, “Our paddlers come from different eras and walks of life. Some sustained physical injuries in the service, others developed medical issues while serving, and others battle psychological and social impacts of service in the military. Regardless, all gave of themselves in the interest of our country.”
TRR’s mission of working with military veterans goes beyond the physical aspect, as participants find social support, emotional strength and the recreation of personal identity through the paddling program. Finger notes, “I can honestly say that involvement in TRR has significantly changed the lives of these veterans through increased self-esteem, social interaction, social reintegration, camaraderie and improved physical condition.” The program also works to involve family members in the process, finding that many families gain common ground and healing through the shared activity.
NOC’s storied involvement in and historical support of the paddling community found a perfect match with TRR. “The work this group is doing for those serving our nation is exceptional,” says Chris Hipgrave NOC Retail Director and whitewater paddler. “Supporting this group gives us an opportunity to give back to servicemen and women, while welcoming them into our beloved paddling community. We all strongly believe in the physical and emotional benefits of this sport.”
The gear donation presentation will take place Fri., Feb. 11 at 2:00pm at NOC’s Outfitter’s Store, 13077 Hwy 19 W, Bryson City, NC. For more information on Team River Runner visit teamriverrunner.org. For more information on NOC visit www.noc.com.
About Team River Runner (TRR)
Established in August 2004 by kayakers in the Washington, DC area, TRR is a primarily volunteer non-profit organization run by a council of kayakers and overseen by a board of directors. TRR was initially established to help active duty military personnel wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Working in partnership with The Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled Sports USA, TRR gives active duty service members, veterans and their family members an opportunity to find health, healing, and new challenges through whitewater boating and other paddling sports.
About Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC)
Nantahala Outdoor Center is the nation’s largest outdoor recreation company. Over a half million guests visit NOC annually to embark on a diverse collection of more than 80 different whitewater rafting and land-based itineraries, learn to kayak at NOC’s world-renowned Paddling School, travel to 12 foreign countries with NOC’s Adventure Travel program, test the latest outdoor gear and shop at its flagship retail stores or enjoy NOC’s resort amenities such as its four restaurants and multi-tiered lodging. A privately-held, employee-owned company, NOC is one of the largest employers in Western North Carolina and 22 Olympians and Olympic coaches have called NOC home. NOC has been recently recognized by The New York Times as the “Nation’s Premiere Paddling School,” “The Best Place to Learn” by Outside, and as “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.