When it came to canoeing for the first time ever, Jimmy was a little nervous.
In May 2016, Jimmy and 74 of his peers from Search were given the opportunity to canoe on Lake George in Indiana - a first for almost every person invited.
Their life changing adventure was made by possible thanks to our good partners at Toad&Co and Wilderness Inquiry. As part of their longtime social mission to provide opportunities for adults with disabilities, Toad&Co gave a grant to the National Park Foundation with the goal of getting 1,000 adults with disabilities into the great outdoors this year. In came the outdoor experts at Wilderness Inquiry and the Canoemobile Access for All Tour was born. The Canoemobile, a fleet of 24-foot Voyager canoes, traveled throughout the country in 2016, helping thousands of people get out onto America’s great rivers and lakes.
For Adreon Morgan, one of the Canoemobile’s trusty captains, seeing people overcome their fears and experience the beauty of America’s waterways has been a real privilege.
“My favorite part is watching the participants step out of their comfort zones and become empowered. I love watching nerves disappear with each paddle stroke. It’s a beautiful transformation to watch. I am honored to be a part of this life-changing experience for so many people,” she said.
For Jimmy, taking that first step outside his comfort zone felt more like a leap. But, once on the water, Jimmy’s nerves started to dissipate. After getting the hang of paddling, Jimmy observed, "It's like making a milkshake."
Surrounded by the wide open sky, water, and swooping birds, he had to admit, "This is not bad.” Once his canoe arrived at the end of the lake and it was time to turn around, Jimmy displayed a newfound confidence. "We got this," he said, as the canoe did a 180° turn.
The beauty of the outdoors was apparent all around. As the group paddled close to the shore to observe a group of turtles, Jimmy cautioned, "Be quiet. Shh, don't say nothing," and put his finger to his lip.
Almost to the dock, Jimmy took his paddle out of the water and looked around at the scene of tranquility on the water.
"This feel fun right here," he said.
We are grateful to our partners at Toad&Co, and to our other supporters, like you, for making the Canoemobile adventure possible.
Beth Valukas, Executive Director of Search says, "For years, Toad&Co has been a champion for Search. The connection that they provided to Wilderness Inquiry is only the most recent example of their great work on behalf of individuals with disabilities. They truly opened up new doors to adventure for many individuals who had never experienced the joy of being out on the water. What a magnificent gift!"
On Nov 29, #GivingTuesday, you have the chance make adventures of a lifetime possible. For 24 hours only, your online gift will be matched dollar for dollar.
Thank you for helping us prove that, without exception, opportunity and adventure are possible for everyone.