No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition 2014

Two blind guys are going to take on kayaking the Grand Canyon in September 2014.

As Lonnie Bedwell and I paddle 277 miles through the Grand Canyon, we hope to encourage 1 million people to take the No Barriers Pledge, a pledge that says, What's within me is stronger than what’s in my way. We hope our big challenge will push others to pick a significant barrier holding them back, attack it, and shatter it into a million pieces.

I first learned about Lonnie when my team and I were doing a training trip on the Colorado River. We heard about another blind kayaker and were very surprised. Learning to whitewater kayak has been one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever taken on. After a typical day of kayak training -- getting flipped in rapids, hitting rocks sideways, and sometimes pulling my skirt and taking long unpleasant swims -- I’d often laugh and say, “Well, I guess there’s a reason why there aren’t many other blind kayakers in the world.”

So the idea that there were actually two of us was hard to believe. In August 2013 with Team River Runner, Lonnie paddled the Grand Canyon. Team River Runner is an organization similar to Soldiers to Summits, except it uses kayaking to help veterans heal after life-changing injuries. After hearing about Lonnie, I called him up to say congratulations and an idea began to grow in my mind: one blind kayaker paddling the mighty Colorado River could be seen as an anomaly, but two becomes a more powerful statement that a No Barriers Life is possible for all of us.

As you will see from this quick video clip, Lonnie and I have very different kayaking styles that fit our personalities. After teaming up with him and his guides at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, I am even more thrilled to have him on the team.

Meet my friend Lonnie Bedwell…

Lonnie Bedwell Introduction from Erik Weihenmayer on Vimeo.

Pledge to live the No Barriers Life, and have your family and friends take the pledge too. It doesn’t mean you have to paddle the Grand Canyon blind. Instead,  it’s picking a challenge that scares you a little and will push you to reach in a new direction. Stop smoking, lose weight, volunteer to lead a Scouting group, or take on learning a new sport. Support our work by attacking your own barrier, and take the No Barriers Pledge.

Stay tuned for upcoming updates as our training continues!