LEXINGTON, Ky (10/10/13)—In 1997 Lonnie Bedwell went on a hunting trip like he had done many times before, however after a terrible accident he was left blind. 16 years later Bedwell has not let being blind disable him, but inspire him instead.
“I had never sat in a kayak before, but for some reason in March, 2012 I checked out Team River Runners at the National Veterans Organization,” Bedwell said, “In July 2012 I went to an outsight clinic and that was the first time I have ever been in a kayak.”
After the clinic, Bedwell was sent home with a kayak. They proposed the idea of one day kayaking the Grand Canyon.
“We all assumed it was going to be five years from now, not as soon as what actually happened.”
A couple of weeks later Bedwell got a phone call from one of the guides that asked if he would like to raft down the Grand Canyon to see what exactly they would be kayaking down in the future.
“I said ‘No I don’t want to raft. I do want to kayak though,” Bedwell said laughing. “I had been in a kayak for 14 days before we decided to accept the challenge.”
After training sessions and learning how to roll the kayak over Bedwell and his team hit the water.
“I got out there and thought that I would do what I can and everything would be fine. The only thing I knew was that I would probably be swimming…a lot,” Bedwell said, “As I was sitting in the kayak I felt more moving water around me than I have ever been in. I instantly thought, holy crap what did I get myself into.”
Bedwell’s guide asked him if he was nervous and he replied by saying, “no man, it’s just water.” The simpler the commands the smoother the trip went. The guide would direct Bedwell by telling him to hard right, hard left, or backstroke.
“The people I was with really set the tone of the trip, they gave me confidence to carry out the rest of the challenge,” Bedwell said, “The first time I flipped over I could feel the water all around me. IT WAS AWESOME!”
Kayaking the Grand Canyon was total team effort and to Bedwell a feeling that he will never forget.
“It was just the running river and our power to get down it,” Bedwell said, “there is no way I could’ve done it without the help and support of these amazing people.”
On Tuesday night Lonnie Bedwell was inducted into the Bluegrass Wildwater Association in Lexington as a lifetime member.
“It was awesome. I was shocked, humbled and am so grateful for these people,” Bedwell said, “All of the help that I get from everyone is the best part of humanity, it shows how great people can be.”
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