GJ ideal for teaching paddle sports to disabled veterans
Team River Runner, a program that teaches whitewater and river kayaking to soldiers with disabilities sustained while serving our country, is opening a new chapter in Grand Junction.
It will be the third Team River Runner chapter in Colorado, and Bryan Wood of the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which partners with Team River Runner, said he expects the newest chapter to start in the spring.
Wood, who serves as operations supervisor of metro programs for the national center and works as an instructor for the Team River Runner chapters in Denver and Colorado Springs, visited Grand Junction earlier this month to train volunteers. He said more volunteers are needed. In particular, Team River Runner needs kayakers who can help with teaching.
Wood said Grand Junction is an ideal place for a Team River Runner chapter because it has all of the pieces in place, starting with a Veterans Administration hospital that serves a large region. It also has ready access to the necessary whitewater.
“In this area they have access to really good stretches of whitewater from Glenwood Springs to Utah,” Wood said.
The goal for the first year is to get about 10 disabled veterans involved in paddle sports, Wood said.
“There’s a small group of people here who want to be involved in paddling,” he said. “It usually starts with a small core group, and more people want to get involved.”
For example, Wood said the all-volunteer chapter in Colorado Springs probably has 20 to 30 vets involved in the program, and the Denver chapter has been around about a year and is growing. Team River Runner has internal support from the VA, “which makes all of the difference,” he added.
Paddle sports also are something anyone can do, Wood said, and the veterans who have gotten into the program, “You don’t even know they have a disability.”
For more information about Team River Runner, got to the group’s website, http://www.teamriverrunner.org.