From 2004 – 2012 I traveled from coast to coast offering free whitewater kayaking clinics for women as part of the Girls at Play Summer Tour. I loved visiting rivers around the country and getting to know the local paddling communities. The paddling tribe is connected by the river no matter where you are! This past summer, after two years of focusing my energy on building Girls at Play’s amazing instructional programs in Asheville, I was able to get back to grassroots events for women.
Instead of instructional based events I decided to make them meet-up style and keep it local to the Southeast. To be inclusive I wanted events on rivers of all skill levels so that every paddler could participate. The last piece was adding the fundraising aspect to the series. I had started the Shannon Christy Memorial Fund a few years back and was finally getting a group of ladies together to work on non-profit status and programming. The culmination of all of this was the Southeast Ladies Paddling Series!
Events were held on the Lower Green, Tuck Gorge, Nantahala, FB9, Pigeon, Ocoee and Lower Gauley. We had 176 ladies paddle with us and raised $1660.00 for the Shannon Christy Memorial Fund and $260 for American Whitewater! It was a huge success, and although each event was unique, they were all connected by community, laughter, fun and paddling. At each event I would take a moment to be quiet and listen to all of the excited chatter going on as women connected with one another and with the river.
To sweeten the deal, my sponsors donated some great prizes to give away for the fundraiser. A few weeks ago we did the drawing at a social hosted by Endless River Adventures and Girls at Play. Sandy Staats won a new Werner Double Diamond paddle, Jennifer Whitlock won a new Kokatat drytop and Taylor Krivenki won a new Dagger kayak of choice! Werner also donated amazing gold medal/bottle openers to give away to a paddler at each event who accomplished something fabulous. I’m grateful to all of my sponsors for such an awesome gear giveaway!
I want to thank all of the women who helped out with the events: Angela Como, Erin Savage, Adrienne Levknecht, Emily Yuratovac, Caroline Moon, Nikki Malatin, Laura Farrell, Emily Shanblatt, Lydia Cardinal, Robin Betz and Katie Dean. And I want to thank all of the women who participated and bought raffle tickets. I look forward to paddling with you all next year!!