Blind Veterans Kayak, Train In Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC — An inspiring new challenge unfolded at the U.S. National Whitewater Center Friday.

Five blind veterans trained to kayak the Colorado River.

It’s one of those sports that makes you feel alive. A challenge that gave Lonnie Bedwell a vision when he went blind.

“I just want to make a difference,” said Bedwell.

The Navy and National Guard Veteran was immersed in darkness when he lost his eyesight in a hunting accident.

His way out was kayaking.

He was the first blind veteran to make it down the Colorado River in 2013, 226 miles.

“Being out here on the water is great,” said Bedwell. “It’s a true feeling of independence, you know? Kind of like driving your own vehicle, I’m driving my own boat.”

Now, he is training for more at the Whitewater Center.

He and four other blind vets will take on the Colorado River in September.

“I’m humbled by them and the other veterans and volunteers,” said Bedwell.

Guides like Chad Jones are by their sides to warn them of what’s up ahead.

“It’s a really powerful organization, really powerful movement that’s there,” said Jones. They want to inspire other veterans who survived combat.

“See light in the darkness like it does for us,” said Bedwell. “And hope, no matter what it is what’s holding them in the darkness, they can see a way out of it and move on and realize that life’s not over.”

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