Non-profit organization helps wounded veterans


Adam Hanshaw, 22, a veteran who very recently just arrived back in the United States from Afghanistan, paddles a kayak on the Cuyahoga River as part of the River Run, on Oct. 24. Photo by Jacob Byk

Chelsea Kiko

Veterans and active duty military members are tired, yet hopeful after a deployment overseas. They look forward to coming home, seeing family and friends – and kayaking.

Yes, kayaking.

The non-profit organization Team River Runner helps promote health and healing in active-duty and veteran service members and their families through the use of paddle sports.

Established in 2004 by kayakers in the Washington, DC area, Team River Runner is an all-volunteer organization run by experienced kayakers, according to the organization’s website.

Team River Runner is partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project and Disabled Sports USA, according to the organization’s handbook. All three organizations aim to provide support for wounded veterans through sports and physical activity.

Christian DeLotell started the Kent chapter of Team River Runner in May 2012 and works as the chapter secretary.

DeLotell, senior recreation, parks and tourism management major, said the Kent chapter has welcomed four veteran participants and six volunteers since its launch.

“Both numbers are the average for a start-up chapter with the goal being to double in size yearly,” DeLotell said.

The Kent chapter recently received $7,000 in new paddling equipment through a grant from the national Team River Runner organization.

DeLotell said the next goal is to recruit volunteers and participants from the Kent State community.

“We’ve not gotten a single student — other than myself — involved in the organization,” DeLotell said. “We have a lot of people that are interested in volunteering but never follow up on it.”

Army veteran Catherine Doerr recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan and decided to get involved in Team River Runner. She said she was excited to learn a new chapter of the organization had started in Kent.

“Even if I had to drive to Cleveland or Youngstown, I would still be interested in doing this,” Doerr said.

DeLotell is a certified instructor and has been working with Doerr since August to teach her the basic skills needed to complete the ultimate goal of kayaking in whitewater.

Participants begin in a large swimming pool to learn kayak techniques, then advance to lakes or rivers to practice, Doerr said.

DeLotell said his love of kayaking motivated him to start the Kent chapter for a practicum project “with the goal of giving back to hundreds of veterans at Kent State.”

For more information on how to get involved visit or email DeLotell at [email protected].

Contact Chelsea Kiko at [email protected]