In just two weeks, two of our esteemed colleagues, Brandon Gerardy and Steve Leppard, along with other members of Team Solstice, including our own PT, Adam Fujita, will demonstrate their unparalleled determination to do something bigger than any one of them could complete alone. Together they will participate in the 68th annual AuSable River Canoe Marathon.
This years race on July 25th and 26th will mark the fifth entry for the "Paddling for Josh" team to complete the marathon to raise money for the education and daily assistance for a young man in need. Josh LeJarett is a 24 year old student at Kalamazoo Valley Community College studying computer programming. Josh also has Cerebral Palsy, is wheelchair bound, and only has voluntary use of his left arm. He is able to drive his power wheelchair with a left handed joystick, but is unable to dress, transfer, or shower independently. He requires 16hrs/day of caregiver assistance. Paddling for Josh has been providing this assistance through fundraising since 2008 and has completed the AuSable Canoe Marathon in four previous entries (2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014). SIMIO Physical Therapy has been a proud supporter of Paddling for Josh since 2010.
I have unique reasons for supporting the efforts of Team Solstice in their adventure to fund Paddling for Josh. Tonya and I have attended the start of many AuSable Marathons prior to our awareness of Team Solstice. We annually travel to Grayling on the last weekend in July to camp at one of our favorite State Parks, Hartwick Pines, and find crowded space on (or near) the steep lawn that serves as the spectator area for the launch of the marathon. We have a respect for the rigor of what is about to take place for the paddlers as they all run down the hill with canoes in hand to find their place in a narrow bend in the river shortly after 9pm.
For us, there may be a drive back to camp, or more recently, we have battled the traffic out of town toward one of the first bridge passing points at Burton's landing, or Stephan bridge, where spectators and team members crowd again to rally and support the racers. Nonetheless, we find ourselves back at camp for a good nights rest. We wake the following morning, eat breakfast, and continue normal camp life as we know it.
Meanwhile...back on the river, our friends in the Paddling for Josh canoe have not rested, they have been paddling through the night averaging 50-80 paddle strokes per minute for 14-19 consecutive hours. They have a team of friends following them from Grayling to Oscoda to support their food, hydration, and equipment needs. The team members train tirelessly through the year to prepare their bodies and plan for the needs of the upcoming race. Many have invested personal dollars and hours in racing canoes and training equipment to condition for this and future marathons. The generosity, selflessness, integrity, and compassion these individuals demonstrate is difficult to illustrate with words.
These friends have made a commitment to set goals, work together, carry one another, and accomplish things that no one person could do alone, but for one individual, Josh LeJarett.
SIMIO Physical Therapy has set up an online donation portal for Paddling for Josh through our website. If you would like to contribute, please CLICK HERE. Thank you.