January 2015-Lonnie Bedwell Grand Canyon Reflection

Lonnie Bedwell, a former Navy Petty Officer and submariner, was injured in a hunting accident that took his sight instantly. After raising his family, 13 years later, he was introduced to adaptive sports, learning to kayak by doing hundreds of rolls in the pond on his Indiana farm. Lonnie enjoys the wilderness to its fullest, fishing and hunting with his daughters on a regular basis. He joined the No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition to emphasize the importance of supporting our veterans on their journey home.

When I sit around thinking about the trip, I am still pretty well speechless. I am so overwhelmed with joy. When I think of a six-year dream of Erik’s coming true, I smile. And the smile becomes bigger when I realize I was privileged enough to be a part of it. When I think of both of us doing this together, it brings tears of joy to my eyes. We actually did it. With so much help and support from so many, we did it. All we can do now is hope that it truly helps others.

To pick a favorite time or event is impossible. Just being in the majesty of the canyon with its sound, feel, and scents is awesome. The feel of the water as it swirled, boiled, and flowed around you is exhilarating. Running all of the rapids spot on, upside down, backwards, or totally solo leaves me with feelings I can’t describe. The side canyon hikes, climbing, and repelling were a blast. I think the people in our group was what made it really special though. All of us pulling together for one common goal while still having fun made the trip special. I laugh when I think of all of the music and songs . . . off the wall and embarrassing as they sometimes were!

— Lonnie Bedwell

Erik and LonniePhoto Credit: James Q Martin