October 10, 2013
Some of you have already heard that an amazing blind guy, Lonnie Bedwell, a Navy Veteran, just kayaked the Grand Canyon. He was part of a descent of the Colorado River with an organization serving veterans, Team River Runner. I’d heard of Lonnie and even met him once at an event for disabled skiers, and he’s humble, and down-to-Earth, as well as courageous.
I also have plans to kayak the GC next year. Last April, I did a trip down the Canyon to get my feet wet and see if a full kayak descent was possible. I exceeded my expectations, managing to kayak most of the major rapids, but taking a motor boat on the flats to save time. Lonnie’s recent descent is so powerful for the veteran community, for blind people, and especially for folks around the world facing challenges. Increasingly, my life is about encouraging people with challenges to dream big, then to pursue those dreams systematically and with perseverance. I try to personally live a "no barriers mindset" to expand the envelope, to try things that others might feel are difficult or impossible. So I love to see doors opening and people like Lonnie who are also taking on this charge! This month, I’m heading to the Maranon, the Grand Canyon of South America, to train. I’ll be with my friends and kayaking guides, Harlan Taney, Steven Mace, and Skyler Williams. This is further team preparation towards my kayak descent of the Grand Canyon next September. A few days ago, I reached out to Lonnie and asked him to be part of this September descent and he seems interested. I hope he comes aboard. Imagine what a message that would send – two blind people taking on one of the world's most wild and iconic rivers – each in solo kayaks. With one person doing it, there’s always a chance it’s an anomaly, but with two, we move even closer to No Barriers – No Excuses! I’ll keep you posted.