Team River Runner (TRR), a volunteer organization that helps wounded veterans recover through whitewater kayaking, has formed a new chapter in Augusta, Georgia and garnered sponsorship through the commercial outfitter Endless River Adventures. Their idea is pretty basic, to use the power of water and the joy of kayaking to help veterans find, as TRR puts it, health, healing and new challenges. Since they were founded in 2004, the program has grown from its home base in the Washington D.C. area to Veteran Affairs hospitals in San Antonio, Boston, Seattle and California.
Endless River Adventures began supporting the program when staff member Sara Cermenaro volunteered with TRR.
“As soon as Sara talked about the experience she had with the vets and the volunteers who are working so hard, I knew we had a cause well worth supporting,” said Juliet Jacobsen Kastorff of Endless River Adventures. “Kayaking is such a healing sport—from just being on the water, to challenging yourself, to confronting your apprehensions; and I cannot think of a better group to put in kayaks than vets recently returned from fighting overseas.”
TRR also runs trips that reward improvements and challenge developing boaters. This year, for team members whose skills matched the river, those trips included a Class II Colorado kayaking clinic and a float down the Grand Canyon. There are plans for sea kayaking trips to the Caribbean, Gauley boating and river-running on the Lower Yough. Regardless of the injury begin addressed, which range from shrapnel wounds to amputees, Team River Runner uses adaptive techniques to get vets in boats.
“The sport brings an important sense of achievement. It brings a kind of renewal because these guys have accomplished a lot just to get in the kayak and handle the river,” says Bill Johnston, a TRR volunteer and Vietnam veteran.
It’s an attractive program to get involved with and the newest Augusta chapter has already had equipment provided through Endless River Adventures. Which means kayaks, skirts, paddles, gear and even Smiley nose-plugs thanks to the help of professional kayaker Spencer Cooke.
Keep your eyes out for a new chapter of TRR near your local river. It’s a great opportunity to help our kayaking community grow. Get some more information at