I started out the day getting dressed up as a pirate and then heading to the put in on White River where JR dropped me off with all my gear. There was a band, Red Rum, playing at the put in as all the pirate paddlers arrived and got ready for the mighty White River. We put in around 2:30 and headed downstream for our nine mile paddle to the White River Yacht Club. Looking around I knew I was in for quite a day in my boat, most of the boats there were flat water boats and mine is a white water boat. I knew I was going to feel each of the nine miles but I was up for the day. I had an amazing time and got to meet some great people on the water. One of the paddlers I'd never met before, Mark, even stuck with me for the majority of the river. It is amazing the difference in how a white water boat handles (or doesn't) on flat water. As soon as I lifted the paddle out of the water to grab a drink I was spinning around. It was great to get the boat out on the water though! This was the maiden voyage for my boat as she has only seen the water at the pool with me before this weekend.
When we got to the White Water Yacht Club it was time to party like a pirate with another band, First Time Caller. Dinner and drinks were amazing and there was even a contest for best boat design and best costumes. At the conclusion of the welcome and awards I was able to get up and speak about my experience with First Descents (check out the video here if you'd like to hear what I had to say). A fellow Hoosier paddler, David Powell, made me a beautiful blown glass bowl to commemorate the event and I was honored to receive it. Speaking of getting to talk, I had spent some time on the water thinking about what I wanted to say. I had spoke to my FD friends to see if anyone had anything specific they would share if they were going to talk about FD. In the end I would say that I mostly just got up and spoke from my heart about my experience and I think it went pretty well.
I count myself as lucky. My FD1 experience brought me two additional families, a FD Family and a HCKC Family. Both of these families follow up with me and play special roles in my life. When I am on the water I am not a cancer patient or survivor, I am not sick, I am just a paddler. I am out living it and loving my life. I am looking towards the next river, the next rapid, the next descent.