Brandon Huff

I suffered a close proximity IED blast while walking that resulted in a left leg above-knee amputation; extensive damage to my gastrointestinal tract; a right hemispheric stroke; and three months of left-sided hemiparesis. In addition, I suffered temporary reading and speaking issues, broken right ankle, a puncture wound in my left bicep from shrapnel (still embedded),and the ever-lovely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (mild to moderate).

Paddling helped me regain near perfect left-arm motor functioning. It’s helped with balance and strengthened my core, which are both integral in helping lower-extremity amputees walk. Whenever I was/am having a frustrating day, I just go out and paddle until my arms fall off. It’s a great release! Paddling also helped re-instill a sense of independence and confidence I lost after my injury. But the most important thing has been the amazing friends and support system I have gained through TRR.

My greatest achievement would be paddling all but thirty miles of the Grand Canyon, after only paddling 7 days of the preceding year. Other wounded warriors should participate in TRR because:
1) What else are you doing that’s so important? The X-Box and Bud Lite will still be there when you get back.
2) Paddling (be it in a raft, shredder, sit-ontop, or whitewater kayak) is a tremendous form of whole-body exercise, which, in my experience, is only surpassed by swimming (and MUCH more fun).
3) The instructors (and volunteers) are VERY experienced, and they are so excited about what they do. They are extremely supportive and will hold your hand and gently guide you every step of the learning process… until they kick you in the butt for holding back.
4) Kayaking is a VERY welcoming community, it’s a great way to meet new people and make new connections as well as friendships that will be life-long.
5) NO ONE looks sexier than when they calmly pull into an eddy after flawlessly handling a gnarly rapid.

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
landscape.