An Adaptive Paddling Story with John Fritzell

“The first time John Fritzell picked up a kayak paddle he was only 11 years old. Because of a rare neurological disorder, he was physically unable to hold a paddle for the next 39 years. Last Saturday at Canoecopia, the world’s largest paddlesports expo held annually in Madison, WI, John was one of the featured presenters. There he described how, thanks to advances in adaptive paddling equipment and the support of family and friends, he has reacquired his ability to kayak. John Fritzell’s is a remarkable story and he has graciously agreed to share it here.” 

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Vanessa Jones

Committe Co-Chair

Vanessa A. Jones is a dynamic force dedicated to fostering
inclusivity, encouraging discussion, and promoting a culture of
belonging in the outdoor sports community. Hailing from
Washington, DC, she brings a wealth of diverse experiences and
perspectives to her endeavors.
As a US Army veteran and ordained Chaplain with a focus on
seniors and caretakers, Vanessa is deeply committed to serving
others. Her work as a patient-caretaker advocate reflects her
passion for supporting vulnerable populations and ensuring their
voices are heard.
Currently, Vanessa is employed by a resettlement agency, where
she confronts challenges head-on with resilience and
compassion. As a single, Black woman veteran, she embraces
the unique hurdles she faces, viewing them as opportunities for
growth and empowerment.
In her downtime, she wears many hats, including that of a
missionary, spreading hope and positivity wherever she goes.
Weekends are spent paddling, immersing herself in West African
dance and finding solace and joy in nature’s embrace.
Vanessa is committed to equitable principles, ensuring that
everyone’s opinions are valued and heard. Through her
unwavering dedication and inclusive leadership, Vanessa is
paving the way for a more equitable and diverse outdoor sports