Stephen Pratt – TRR Boise

   I served 10 years in the United States Army as a communications specialist. I was deployed to the 1st Iraq war “Desert Storm” and a year long peacekeeping mission to Bosnia.  I have been married for almost 20 years and I have 3 children, which my son has just now joined the Army himself.  On October 17th of 2010 I was on a father son hunting trip with a friend of mine and his son. We were riding our ATVs in an area that we had been in many times before and went up a hill that we had been up dozens of times before but this time was different. When we got about halfway up the hill there was a small tree on the path and as I attempted to go over the tree, the  weight of my son on the back along with going over the tree it caused the ATV to flip over backwards. I only had a fraction of a second and the first thing that came to mind is that my son is still on the back. I did the only thing I could think of and that was to turn around and give him a push off the back. The next thing I knew the ATV landed on top of me then bounced off leaving me lying on the ground in agony. I knew from that moment on my life was going to be dramatically changed forever because I knew that I was paralyzed from the waist down.

Over the next few years I started to develop some severe nerve pain in my legs and abdomen. It put me in a deep depression and I stopped doing everything that I use to enjoy. I was then introduced to Team River Runner by the recreation therapist at the Boise VA. I told myself to at least try it and see if this is something I can even do and will my pain even let me do it. Over the months leading up to summer we practiced in a pool and a large pond on how to control our Kayak and how to be safe out on the water. It really took a team effort to get me down the boat ramps, through dirt and sand and into my kayak. Once I was out on the water going down stream and through some small rapids I started to notice that I was not thinking about my pain any longer and my depression had lifted because I was not thinking about anything but the calm of the water and God’s beautiful canvas that was before me.

Team River Runner has improved my quality of life by getting me off the couch and into a kayak on the water.

Stephen Pratt

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