Team River Runner teaching important lessons

September 26, 2013 4:06:00 PM PDT
A local Marine Veteran is taking his fellow vets to the river teaching them kayaking. It provides a social setting, as well as health and healing for disabled vets.

Jim Riley, the founder of the local chapter of Team River Runner and a Marine vet who served in Vietnam, is a certified kayak instructor.

He started the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Team River Runner a few months ago.

The program has the support of the Philadelphia Canoe Club and the Brandywine Valley YMCA where in-door training sessions are held twice-a-month.

That is where the men learn the basics of kayaking. "The pool's a great place because we can get an idea of what someone's mobility is like," Riley said.

From the pool, vets then move to outdoor bodies of water, like here at the Canoe Club on the Schuylkill.

The kayaks, equipment, and training are supplied free.

Josh Burd, an Iraq Veteran who helped Jim establish this River Runner chapter suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"Just makes me feel good about myself again," Burd said.

Many vets are hesitant to go out in public especially if they have disabilities, but here, a simple game of kayak polo can do wonders for them.

"What they didn't realize is they're actually learning balance really well," Riley said.

Next month, members of Team River Runner will compete in their first biathlon in Washington, D.C.


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