We love kayaking, for no good reason at all. So when Angie Kandalaft from Chasing 3 Race Productions asked us to provide kayak safety support at the open water triathlons around New Mexico, we readily agreed. It’s turned out to be a fun fundraising event for us as well. Volunteers are typically rewarded with a $20 gift certificate to a local retailer. For paddlers, Chasing 3 will donate $20/volunteer back to Kayak New Mexico’s Adaptive Paddling Program. How cool is that?!? Pretty cool, right? Well, it gets even better!
Many of the volunteers who support these triathletes have a disability too; Autism, muscular dystrophy, Veterans with disabilities, people who use wheelchairs, and some with cancer. But you can’t tell who has cancer, Autism, an amputation or uses a wheelchair when someone is in a kayak; we all look the same, with no adaptive equipment which draws attention to our differences.
As we work with people in our program through more formal training, we teach them how to re-enter a dry boat from deep water in a minute or less (ideally). If we can help a paddler re-enter a boat from deep water in an adaptive environment, such as a pool, Sandia Lakes, or Hotel Cascada, then we can manage some basic risks when we’re out on more open water.
Many of our volunteers with disabilities see these athletes swimming, biking and running, pushing through their own mental and physical barriers to achieve their highest potential. Participating as safety kayakers in these triathlons have inspired many of our paddlers to do the same – set goals, mental and physical, and push through them with courage, confidence and character