Most of us are not Class V boaters, we are Class V+ friends!

Celiann Gonzalez Paddle Photo

I was asked to write my TRR story, but truth is – TRR is not about one person, is about a community… And last year, during the pandemic – I had the opportunity to be a safety boater for the filming of Breaking Bobby Bones featuring Lonnie Bedwell, someone that I admire to no end, along some of my favorite TRR vets – Dave and Chip. It was an unbelievable experience for me, and as I drove back to CO I realized why TRR is so important… When I got home – I sent an email to Joe Mornini – our executive director that to this day still how I feel:
“…. I couldn't help to think that I wouldn't have had this experience if it wasn't for you and what you have created in TRR.... So from the bottom of my heart, I want to say Thank you again!!

I also wanted to share some of my thoughts during my drive that I really think is the message that our donors should hear as to why they should fund TRR - is more than what we have been doing to keep people engaged during COVID, but how we still care for each other through the year and across the country... We've always have a "Kayakers for Good" program - it was just unnamed till now....

Our motto is "butts in boats" so veterans and families can find healing through paddling, but it is way more than that.... Once I said that although most of us are not Class V boaters, we are Class V+ friends, well I would even go farther than that now... As veterans, we call each other brother and sisters in arms, but as I think of TRR, I call us brothers and sisters at heart.... And it includes all of the amazing volunteers and family members that support the TRR. Volunteers who do more than expected to get vets on the water and those who support their significant others and veterans to no end... We (vets) need you all to give us balance and keep us in check.... At the same time, I can see how we also give the volunteers healing and purpose back.

And I don't even know how to begin to describe the connections between vets themselves.... We understand each other at a deeper level so we feel safe within our community to be ourselves - again, where else can I wear a Wonder woman onesie without being judged! But seriously, we can go to each other for help, even when we haven't known each other for long... Example - during my drive, I had one of my newer vets contact me out of nowhere letting me know that he is facing the decision whether to get his leg amputated. And was wondering if I knew of others that have gone through an amputation that he can talk to. Immediately, I gave him several names of Vets that are also leg amputees that would be more than glad to talk to him about it. Without TRR, he wouldn't have ever met me, and I wouldn't have known all these amazing folks to refer him to.... And you know they will make him laugh!!

So, in my mind "TRR" events happen all the time, they are just informal - it can be in the form of a conversation or a phone call or a day trip.

Anyway, you can't really put a cost to these "events" - but they all start with that initial day a vet shows up at a pool or lake session and meets a TRR person for the first time, and without the equipment, clinics, and training that donations fund many of us would still be lost.... And I think that's a message the donors should hear.

Charity Name
Team River Runner
Photo Credit
Celiann Gonzalez