TRR Members of the Month!

Our TRR family is so important. Every single veteran and volunteer who participate in our programs are what make it great! Each month, TRR will recognize a chapter coordinator, veteran and volunteer. Check out our amazing family! 

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Cory Anderson

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Cory Kayak Underwater
Chapter: Northeast Ohio
Branch of Service: US Navy
Years with TRR: 8
 
TRR is truly humbling to me.  When I can join a group of veterans with very diverse challenges, and we all get together to enjoy the sport of kayaking, you know you are part of a very special organization.  The concept of “Butts in Boats” (with all of the amazing adaptations to such boats and the volunteers who ensure a fun and safe time) this seems to diminish many mental walls that might have otherwise prevented such veterans that opportunity. My volunteering with TRR has been and will continue to be some of the best time investments I was involved in.
Back in 2000, just a few months after my paralyzing motorcycle crash, a group of Kent State University Kayak Club friends got together and purchased a barge of a sit on top kayak to present to me. Eric Metz, Dave Knox, Eric Quigley and Justin Jeffers each grabbed one of my limbs and lifted me out of my wheelchair and tossed me into this barge. They gave me about 30 seconds to get acquainted and then pushed me into the water.  I was petrified but they coached me to stay calm.  It was the first time since my accident that I felt somewhat normal.  
 
Once they had seen I was comfortable, they dumped me into the abyss and made me climb back into the barge.  It was not pretty, but they had a lot of patience.  I finally got there and at that moment I had a mind blowing mental transformation. I was slightly less gimpy as originally perceived. I went home with happy tears that afternoon. It was an amazing gift that these fellers had given me.
 
To honor such a gift, for the next 20 years I have been volunteering with local adaptive groups to help others with similar mental transformations.  Groups like the Cleveland MetroParks adaptive programs, Three Trackers of Ohio (NE Ohio area) and The Adaptive Sports Connection (Columbus area) all hosted adaptive events that I volunteered with.  I even hosted my own adaptive kayak experience in 2004 through the Cleveland VA Spinal Cord Unit.  It was the first time the Cleveland VA ever tried such an event and I organized the whole setup = location / volunteers / equipment / participants / food.  This one time event successfully allowed almost a dozen veterans in wheelchairs that similar transformation of the mind.  My oldest veteran was in his 80’s and youngest was in his early 20’s, and they all had the best time.
 
Fast forward a decade and Justin Jeffers gives me a call looking for help to get a Team River Runner chapter started in NE Ohio.  He and Chris DeLotell laid the foundation  to get the representation of the national organization in our area.  It was a no-brainer that I would help out.  At the end of 2015, Justin asked me to take the reins of the chapter, so in 2016, 2017 and 2018 Mr. Big Joe M had allowed me to act as chair for NE Ohio.  Big shoes for such a little feller – haha.  I did my best keeping the chapter afloat and using my own equipment – I kept the traditions of butts in boats fluent.
 
Today Ryan Pepper now has the reins of this chapter, and I try to help him out as he sees fit.  This is a strong chapter that has evolved much, and Ryan Pepper is a great leader to carry this chapter will into the future.  It has indeed been truly an honor to work with Big Joe Mornini, Dave Robey, Justin Jeffers and Ryan Pepper and the entire team in this national network.  Everyone in this organization shares the same passions to develop mental transformations by putting Butts in Boats.
 
I look forward to the next 20 years of such fun!
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David Taylor

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Tanner Jones

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Shawn Shabo

Chapter: Green Bay, WI
Branch of Service: Army
Years with TRR: 7
 
Since joining Team River Runner it’s been my good fortune to meet many wonderful, inspiring veterans and paddlers in our community. TRR has provided me opportunities to grow by serving in different capacities in our chapter, attend SWR training and the challenge of becoming an ACA instructor. My desire is to help others find the friendship and fun I’ve found  by being on the river together. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter: Denver, CO
Branch of Service: USMC
Years with TRR: 3
 
TRR has helped me find adaptions to get back on the water after my amputation. the healing found through  flow and camaraderie is what I think makes this organization so great 
Chapter: Ft.Collins, CO
Years with TRR: 4

Bringing Veterans and their families together through whitewater paddle sports is what it’s all about. At one time we were strangers to one another, but after TRR we have become friends and family. Having the opportunity to be a part of this culture has been truly incredible! 

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

Near the Finish!

Linda Johnson

VETERAN

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Scott Brown

VOLUNTEER

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Lark Adams

Chapter: Columbia, SC
Branch of Service: Retired USAF
Years with TRR: 7
 
Since joining Team River Runner it’s been my  good fortune to meet many wonderful, inspiring veterans and paddlers in our community.  TRR has provided me opportunities to grow by serving in different capacities in our chapter, attend SWR training and the challenge of becoming an ACA Instructor.  My desire is to help others find the friendship and fun I’ve found by being on the river together.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter: Columbia, SC
Branch of Service: US Army
Years with TRR: 2
 
I enjoy the comraderie and sense of purpose that TRR provides to veterans on and off the water. Truly a team of teams as we contribute to the paddle sports community.
Chapter: Columbia, SC
Years with TRR: 3

After Deborah Reyes became the Columbia, SC Chapter Coordinator, she asked me to assist her with various TRR duties.  We had known each other for several years from the Columbia kayaking community.  Primarily I was in charge of organizing TRR equipment and distributing it to veterans at the training sessions.  While there I also participated as a safety boater.  I has been an honor to be associated with such an important and outstanding organization.

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Gregory Oswalt

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Jasmine Jean Harvey

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Eric D'Ercole

Chapter: Johnson City
Branch of Service: Marine Corps
 
Greg loved TRR, his passion for whitewater kayaking and TRR was unmatched in our chapter. He was a vital team member who’s enthusiasm and willingness to help others embodied the mission of TRR. He often joked that “money can not buy happiness but it can buy a kayak and that is pretty much the same thing.”
Chapter: Fredericksburg
Branch of Service: Daughter of TRR veteran 
 
She loved life although she also had her struggles. She smiled and believed in love for everyone. 
Chapter: Southeast Pennsylvannia
Branch of Service: National Guard/ Army Reserve

Eric was a National Guard / Army Reserve veteran who had suffered catastrophic injuries when a friend brought him to TRR. He sucked up whitewater kayak training like a sponge and it lit his spirit and motivation. TRR setup his initial gear and training but soon his family was helping him get his own. Great brother to our Southeast PA chapter, many fun times and always smiling on the river. In the photo, we teased him about having his pinky up on the paddle, “What is this, teatime?”

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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Mark McWilliams

VETERAN

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Richard Bloom

VOLUNTEER

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Lorraine McPhee Bruteig

Chapter: Fort Collins
Branch of Service: USN Civil Engineer Corps
Years with TRR: 5 years
 
“Team River Runner has been an eye opening experience for me learning about all the sacrifices men and women of this country have made.  Being able to connect and hopefully make a positive difference in the lives of others has been a pleasure.  I’m proud of my connection to TRR and hope that this organization continues to grow!”
Chapter: Colorado Springs
Branch of Service: Army & Navy
Years with TRR: 8 years
 
“I have been able to be more involved in the past couple of year as an assistant instructor and river safety. TRR has been a great way for me to stay active, help others stay active, and build a community of veteran friends. This me on the left and Marc Dervaes on the right at Waterton”
Chapter: Denver
Branch of Service: Army
Years with TRR: On and off 8 years

“I love to interact with the great TRR folks! It’s been so much fun and so inspiring getting to assist with TRR paddling trips to Mexico, Colorado, and helping with pool roll sessions. “

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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Craig Esposito

VETERAN

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Fred Schutz

VOLUNTEER

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Bob Winston

Chapter: Milwaukee
Years with TRR: 10 years
 
“It has been my pleasure to be the leader or co-leader of the Milwaukee chapter since it began 10 years ago. I coordinate the regional event in Wausau WI at the Wausau Whitewater course each year as well. Our weekly lake paddle gets me out, teaching and playing on the water with old friends as well as getting to meet new ones. What’s not to like about that. I also had the opportunity to run the Salmon River with TRR and one of our chapter vets a few years ago which was one of best times of my life. I plan on continuing my involvement with TRR as long as there are rivers to run or lakes to paddle.”

Fred Schutz was a Vietnam vet who passed away last fall. He was a sea kayaker and whitewater boater. Fred was very active in TRR regional trips like Apostle Islands, Peshtigo River and Wausau Whitewater and attended just about every Milwaukee chapter event since the chapter formed 10 years ago. He was a great guy with a good sense of humor who is greatly missed. 

Chapter: Minneapolis
Years with TRR: 10  years

“I joined up to volunteer instruct and guide whitewater kayaking with the TRR Minnesota Chapter some ten years ago to honor my father who served in the Pacific with the Army Air Force during WWII and mother who held down the home front. Since then, it has been my further honor to introduce countless vets to the sport and witness the positive transformations they make in their lives through their boundless courage, persistent mastery and irrepressible enjoyment.”

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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Carlisle Landel

VETERAN

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Randy Mead

VOLUNTEER

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Steve Swanson

Chapter: Palo Alto
Years with TRR: 4+ years
 
“I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to support our veterans by sharing my enthusiasm and love of paddle sports. In TRR I have found a community—really, a family—full of the most caring and wonderful people imaginable.”
Chapter: Denver
Branch Of Service: US Navy
Years with TRR:  9 years
 

” I showed up at a winter pool session not knowing anything about TRR. I immediately felt welcome and included. Soon after I was helping others with their rolling practice, helping out with registration, and set-up/take down chores.  Lately I’ve been able to raise a little money for the chapter.  I am looking forward to reconnecting with the team in the next few months and finding new ways to contribute.”

Chapter: Denver
Years with TRR: 2  years

“Most of my involvement with TRR has been to provide offseason instruction to a terrific group of people.  hopefully lots more group river time this coming season. “

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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Dale Osborn

VETERAN

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Jeff Allen

VOLUNTEER

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Judy Nonken

Chapter: San Diego
Years with TRR: 14
 
“I’ve always been blown away at what an incredible impact TRR’s program has on our Veteran and Active Duty attendees and how much it means to them to join our community.”
Chapter: Grand Junction
Branch Of Service: Air Force
Years with TRR:  9 years
 

“I am the chapter coordinator for the grand junction. I have held many different roles, such as maintenance, liason between different agencies, and try to keep all things running smoothly. 

Chapter: Fredericksburg
Years with TRR:  6 years
Judy is a former Air Force spouse for 21 yrs and spent 20 yrs with the USMC as a civil servant
 

“TRR has given me the opportunity to help the Fredericksburg chapter with record keeping, special events, outreach, transportation and member interaction.  Meeting, paddling with, and developing friendships with extraordinary people has truly been a highlight of my life.”

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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Bob Tracy

VETERAN

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Nelson McLaughlin

VOLUNTEER

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Michi Dervaes

Chapter: Boise
Years with TRR: 6
 
“My involvement with TRR began on a chance encounter with Dave Robey when we met kayaking the Staircase run on the Payette. I told him I had recently retired and was looking for a way to volunteer to help others. He said he had a deal for me, to set up an Idaho TRR Chapter. In the six years since I agree to be Boise Chapter Coordinator, our fabulous community of vets and volunteers have worked alongside me to build a great program.”
Chapter: New River Gorge
Branch Of Service: Army
Years with TRR:  5 years
 

“A welcoming community is one that believes in equity to reach equality, minimal microaggressions to create inclusion and promotes looking at one’s self to achieve these values. Team River Runner introduced me to this type of community, now I do my best to welcome any Veteran or Volunteer into our programming so they may be lifted up through our community and bring these values into society. “

Chapter: Colorado Springs
Years with TRR:  9 years
Michi is the spouse and caregiver of Army veteran Marc Dervaes
 

“I started kayaking with TRR in 2010 in San Antonio, Tx, during Marc‘s recovery, after loosing his arm. I usually join Marc in his adaptive activities because I enjoy them too. After returning from San Antonio we started kayaking with the TRR chapter in Colorado Springs, CO in 2011. As TRR has helped Marc tremendously in his recovery, I wanted to give back and became the Chapter secretary for the local chapter. I love being able to help getting active duty soldiers, veterans, and their families on the water.”

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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JENNIFER HAHN

VETERAN

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JESSE KULA

VOLUNTEER

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WILLARD KNEIDL

Chapter: Decatur & Central USA Regional Coordinator
Years with TRR:  4
Jennifer is the Wife of Navy Veteran, daughter of Army Veteran, and granddaughter of Navy & Army veterans 
 
“Serving veterans is my passion!  I loved working for the VA Spinal Cord Injury Service.  TRR combines two of my favorite pursuits, spending time with veterans and paddling!  “
Chapter: Montana
Branch Of Service: National Guard
Years with TRR:  2 years, Jesse is a founding member of our Montana Chapter
 

“My involvement with Trr has been truly inspiring. It is great to go out on the river with others, the TRR community is special. “

Chapter: Boise
Years with TRR:  5 years
 

“When Bob Tracy started the chapter in Boise, he drafted Tim Russer and myself to get the charter started. We had been teaching kids to kayak through Idaho River Kids. Bob was one of my favorite people to kayak with, and I saw this as an opportunity to serve our veterians, and a good use of my time in retirement. 

I did not serve in the military and it has been my privilege to give back to our veterans by sharing an activity I love. It is fun to watch our vets advance in their skills to the point they relax and start playing in the river. Their smiles and laughter is my reward.  TRR has been a blessings as I’ve met a lot of great people, and had a bunch of fun adventures.”

CHAPTER COORDINATOR

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CHRIS FARRIS

VETERAN

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VOLUNTEER

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JOHN SU

Chapter: American River
Branch Of Service: Marine Corps
Years with TRR:  4-5
 
“I joined TRR 4-5 years ago in Palo Alto Truly a life-changing event, The River, Bays and lakes of California offer beauty and healing qualities. I started a new Chapter American River, and now I am Co Chair and Facilitator for TRR’s new Diversity Committee, working towards diversifying TRR. I feel a large obligation to move the gift of Paddle sports forward, I am dedicated”
Chapter: Shepherd
Branch Of Service: Air Force
Years with TRR:  7
 
“I found TRR when I was in nursing school after I could no longer serve in the USAF.  Being a part of TRR has challenged me to grow in ways I never imagined, allowed me to connect with veterans I would have never met, and to become a stronger leader.  I will be forever grateful for all that I have learned from those I’ve met in the entire Team River Runner Organization. “
Chapter: National
Years with TRR:  I helped a little years 1-3 of TRR but much more involved since 2014
 

“I have truly enjoyed my continued work with TRR.  I have been able to meet many AMAZING and GENEROUS people.  Being able to repurpose donated kayaks into hand paddles I sell, affords me the privilege to buy kayaks as well as trailers to support our chapters nationwide.”