Members of Team River Runner-Shepherd (TRR-Shepherd), a therapeutic watersports program for veterans and their families, talked about their chapter at the Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival's December meeting Monday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Bolivar Community Center in Harpers Ferry.
TRR-Shepherd was established in April and teaches recreational and adaptive kayaking to veterans from the Martinsburg VA Medical Center and the community in the Shepherd University Wellness Center pool and then on the open water in an effort to find health and healing. Now in its winter schedule with twice-monthly pool sessions, volunteers spend time in the local area fundraising and recruiting veterans and volunteers.
The annual festival, which takes place in June, was one of the first events in which chapter members participated.
"The Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival was among our first supporters in the larger community when we launched the chapter last spring," said Tracy Seffers, chapter secretary and registrar at Shepherd. "Their encouragement and generous welcome into the regional paddling community wasincredibly important to our fledging chapter. We're looking forward to sharing with them about the amazing first year we've had."
Since April, 40 volunteers have completed more than 600 hours of service at 34 TRR-Shepherd events. The next training session is scheduled for Wednesday, January 8, 2014, at the wellness center pool. It is open to all military who want to learn new kayak skills or sharpen the ones they have.
"TRR-Shepherd has surrounded our local veterans with a generous and joyful community. We have seen the changes in the veterans we serve as they gain confidence on the water and build their strength and skills, and that is very satisfying, but I think each of us has been changed in surprising and wonderful ways simply through the positive energy of the people who gather weekly to help," Seffers said. "This is very, very good work that is happening at Shepherd. I'm very proud of what we have accomplished together."
The Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival raises money and awareness for river and environmental conservation. It brings together outdoor enthusiasts to promote healthy and peaceful enjoyment of the outdoors. Next year's festival is scheduled for June 6-7, 2014 at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in Harpers Ferry.