Accessibility in Boating: Team River Runner (TRR)
Team River Runner Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, an all-volunteer agency, works closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to teach disabled American service veterans in the Cincinnati area to kayak. As the recipient of a $9,759 educational grant from the Division of Watercraft in 2012, TRR will soon receive kayaks, paddles, and other paddling gear to assist with serving even more vets in need.
Team River Runner was formed in 2004 when a group of avid kayakers offered to take in-patient disabled veterans from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. and teach them how to whitewater kayak. After receiving approval from the VA, the first group of in-patient veterans were trained in a pool setting then taken onto local lakes and rivers to kayak. The vets loved it!
Sports such as kayaking help veterans regain confidence and coordination by mastering a new skill. Kayaking can be enjoyed at any level, from flat water recreational paddling, to high-energy whitewater kayaking, allowing most vets to participate regardless of their disability. For a vet who spends most of his or her life in a wheelchair, kayaking allows them to excel in a sport where they are at eye level with everyone else. They also enjoy camaraderie with other vets who share similar experiences.
Today, Team River Runner is growing exponentially with chapters in over 25 cities across the country and new chapters opening each year. The Cincinnati TRR chapter is the only chapter in Ohio and was chartered in 2011 by volunteer members of CincyPaddlers, an area kayaking group.
The bonds formed on the water can last a lifetime. From the perspective of the volunteer, Team River Runner is a way to thank those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.