It has been very therapeutic for me. After suffering from PTSD for many years, I didn’t think I could be happy or have fun again. Now I have Kayaking and have fun again. TRR has been a big part of my recovery.
How I found Susquehanna Valley Team River Runner (SVTRR) isn’t important; however what I’ve learned about myself, others and what I’ve accomplished since finding SVTRR IS.
No matter how one becomes a person with a disability, we all have strengths, abilities and needs. SVTRR is a place where all three of these characteristics are met on a personal and individual basis. What people outside of the organization may not realize is that there is much more to SVTRR than paddling. Recently, someone told me “I know you’re having fun but don’t lose track of other things in life”
Sure, I’m having a blast but there is much more happening beneath the surface that helps me with life. For example; SVTRR provides me with encouragement to go beyond my comfort zone, but not without my permission. SVTRR reminds me that I am strong and capable of much more than I realize. SVTRR has taught me to stand up and advocate for myself. SVTRR has taught me that everyone deals with “demons” throughout life, but it’s how you deal with them that makes a difference.
SVTRR reminds me to never give up on a goal. Most importantly SVTRR has given me strong friendships that I hope will last a life time.
Recently an SVTRR instructor pointed out and I concurred that I have a fear of failure. That has stemmed from previous life experiences. Placing that idea on the bow of my kayak was a true eye opener. Now it’s time to face that fear head on, and with SVTRR by my side I know I will come to terms with my fear.
As I continue to grow and develop my skills I have and will have days where things don’t go well on the water, but SVTRR always ensures that the day ends on a positive note. This one simple act will keep me coming back for more every time. I started this journey by turning a large rec boat in circles, and now I can complete an Eskimo roll. That’s something not everyone can say.
Never before have I found an organization where participants are treated as equals, and I am truly appreciated for who I am. SVTRR is a place where I can simply be me in a judgment free zone.
I am truly thankful for SVTRR. This organization would not exist without the foresight and leadership of it’s Chapter Coordinator Bill Butler.
In closing SVTRR is leading me down a new river where along the way I’m collecting my self-confidence which I temporarily lost in the river called life.
I served briefly in the Navy but was discharged due to a pulmonary embolism. I reached a point where I couldn’t deal with pain anymore. My husband and I decided to purchase a swim spa so I would be able to exercise in water. At that point my doctor referred me to Rec Therapy to start to get active. This was a life changer for me I lost over 25 pounds and started to be active.
At a cross country ski trip Sandy T. told me about TRR and told me to check it out. I was scared to death to be in a kayak even though I was a good swimmer at this point. I decided to try it out and loved it. I was definitely afraid of whitewater kayaking and never thought I would do it. After doing a couple pool sessions and pond sessions. I felt a little better but still nervous about being on a river.
Sandy and I were chosen to go on a leadership kayaking trip on the San Juan River and had a great time. Through TRR I have been able to overcome my fears and built confidence in myself. I also found that even though I might live with constant pain if I’m on the river and nervous about going through rapids I am not thinking about my pain.
[Note: this is an anonymous post, but I think it rings true. If you are the writer, CALL ME! You have a place with us, any time! Bill.Butler@TeamRiverRunner.org / 717-951-8948. I fixed some spelling, by the way…]
So, I’m not much of a writer, so I’ll just talk. I’m not ready to share my mess with everyone yet, but if you don’t care to have an anonymous post, you can use this.
I have been in some trouble after I left the Marines. I have made some bad choices trying to quiet the memories I brought back from Afghanistan. I am not proud of how I was trying to cope but it is what it is.
A friend of mine told me about a class he’d gone to where a group of busted up Veterans taught him how to kayak and he got to do a little white water and how much fun it was. I saw that it really made him smile and I know he was going though some of the same stuff I was. So, I figured I’d try it.
The thing that I noticed about this was that no one seemed to care that I was doing some wrong stuff. They seemed to really like me for me. They were patient and moved at my pace. Roy was really awesome and patient and worked with me a lot. The pool was nice and warm and there were a lot of people but they all really made me feel welcome. I started to think that I’m not broken like I thought.
Since that night I have really tried to clean up and have been better at going to therapy at the VA after a couple of bad starts. I have a long way to go, but just remembering that night and talking with these guys on Facebook has really helped.
Team River Runner (TRR) has helped me in more ways than I think I can name. So, let’s talk about the big one – TRR has helped me to heal.
You might not be able to see it when you meet me, but I am a little bit broken from my time in the Military. Sure, I have all the normal aches and pains that comes with the challenge of serving one’s country and those tend to slow me down a little, but there are some other injuries you simply don’t see when you look my way.
My experiences in the 82nd Airborne Division left me with some unseen injuries: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). As I age, the effects of these seem to creep in more and more to my daily life. Frankly, for a while there, things got pretty dark and scary.
My family and friends have been super-supportive, and I am very thankful for them, but there was a deep, dark trench across my path to recovery that kept me from being able to really heal. Those who were close to me could empathize, sympathize, lend an ear, but they simply couldn’t understand what I was really going through. The safety they provided me got me to that trench, but couldn’t get me across it.
TRR helped to bridge that trench.
As I got more and more involved in TRR, I met more and more people who shared a story similar to mine. I could talk frankly with them, watch them get up to that trench and somehow cross it. I watched some struggle harder than me and watched others succeed and grow and I thought, why not me? And, as I walked beside a couple of my closest friends as they struggled, I began to realize that it was not up to me to make a daring leap across this unknown chasm. I began to realize that my friends were laying bridges across the trench so I could cross in safety.
So, you might see a bunch of Veterans paddling down a river or across a lake, laughing and joking with one another and think, “how nice.” But what you don’t realize is that these paddlers are actually facilitating some incredible healing. Being able to share in these stories and be part of another person’s healing is an incredibly healing experience. All the counselors and medications in the world sometimes pales in comparison to just having the ear of someone who’s been there…who can understand the unspoken pieces of the story.