OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

New experiences, chapters, HS graduation, & whitewater bellyaking

Cerebral Palsy (CP)

William Blakely

High school graduation ceremony, party, and paddle

On May 24th 2017, I graduated from Brookwood High School in Snellville, Ga. My dad and stepmom had a regular graduation party on May 20th, 2017 for both me and my stepsister to celebrate, but my mom wanted to do something just for me to celebrate graduating from high school by giving me a "graduation paddle." So almost a month later on June 25th, we invited our friends Adam, Jamie, Greg, Jason and his son Karson, my buddy Graham, and mom's friend Andrea along with two of mom's kayaking friends Wes and his son River for a fun afternoon on the river. Adam, Jamie, and I were on bellyaks, mom, Greg, Jason, Karson, Wes and River were in kayaks, and Graham and Andrea were in inflatable duckies. Whether you're a new paddler on the river or if you're me, you're gonna flip your boat over and swim. Well while on the river back in June, I ended up doing that. My boat was sideways and hit a rock, causing me to flip over and end up in the water. Adam got off of his boat to get me out of the water and back on my boat, mom tried to help Adam while trying not to hit him, but ended up getting accidently hit by a duckie and unfortunately Greg got the whole thing on video. We docked at a small beach to swim and relax for a few minutes, but eventually we all got down the river safely. I was really happy that Graham came with us because he was able to see a different part of me. Normally, he and my other friends see me in my wheelchair, but on June 25th Graham got to see me doing something that I love, which was paddling on the river.

Whitewater Bellyaking Lesson

A few months after the graduation paddle on September 22nd, Adam messages me and asks if mom told me that we were going paddling the next day on the 23rd because a friend of his told him that the water level was good enough to run. Well Saturday morning, mom and I met Adam, Jamie, and Robin at the Tuckasegee river in Dillsboro, North Carolina and found out that the river wasn't safe enough for me to run. Adam even said that paddling at that low level, would make you want to eat your eyeballs. So instead of a Bellyak river run, we turned it into a river lesson taught by Robin and Jamie and videographed by Adam. In the youtube video attached with this story, I learned how to do an eddy turn, peel out, and a ferry on my Bellyak which I had a lot of fun doing.  By next summer, I hope to not only be able to paddle,  but also lead everyone down the Pigeon River up in Tennessee.

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