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Fundraiser for Team River Runner draws yogis of all fitness levels

By Staff | Jun 29, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Yogis move through a series of positions during the June 21 fundraiser for Team River Runner—Shepherd at the Shepherd University Wellness Center.

The second Annual Summer Solstice Ceremony took place at Shepherd University Wellness Center on June 21.

The ceremony, which encouraged each participant to donate $10 to the organization, the ceremony raised over $300 for Team River Runner-Shepherd. About 17 percussionists from Shenandoah Rhythm Jam participated in the event, playing everything from a set of three tubanos, to the West African bougarabou, to the Middle Eastern darbuka, to a tank drum made out of a recycled propane tank.

“It’s a beautiful expression of the way this community – both Shepherd University as a whole and the Wellness Center in particular, and the Shepherdstown area community – has supported Team River Runner in the past five years,” said Tracy Seffers, TRR-Shepherd chapter coordinator. “It’s just another way they support us and say ‘yes’ to our veterans.”

Seffers, the facilitator for the Jefferson County branch of Shenandoah Rhythm Jam, joined in the two hours of drumming.

According to the TRR website, the organization’s mission is “to provide all veterans and their families an opportunity to find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports.”

Seffers heads up the grant that funds TRR-Shepherd, which is West Virginia’s only chapter of the national 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. According to Seffers, TRR-Shepherd has helped hundreds of injured veterans through the healing process, using a variety of workshops and regular kayaking lessons on local bodies of water and at the Wellness Center pool during the winter.

“I’m involved with this event because I care,” said Wellness Center Assistant Director Jennifer Seeley, who was helping event attendees sign in. “The dynamic of the younger students and community members creates a great energy for events like this.”

Seeley said the Wellness Center’s first solstice fundraiser was in December 2016.

The Wellness Center was already allowing TRR to practice kayaking in its pool during the winter months, so when the center’s yoga instructor, Dee Marshall, wanted to start holding an annual solstice ceremony, Seeley came up with the idea to turn the event into a fundraiser for TRR-Shepherd.

Since that first solstice, the fundraiser has been held every year on the first day of summer. This is TRR-Shepherd’s third solstice, according to Marshall.

“The reason for the summer solstice is to honor the longest day of the year,” said Marshall, who was also the event organizer. “The purpose of the solstice is to honor the Earth, and it pays respect to ourselves and our community. It’s just a good reminder we’re on the Earth and we need to support the Earth.

For more information, visit www.teamriverrunner.org/get-involved/chapters/west-virginia-shepherdstown/.