Join the launch party in Columbia for the 175 Mile PTSD River Challenge
Give props to paddlers launching April 17 in Columbia; landing April 24 at The Citadel
Paddlers, patriots, neighbors, and friends are encouraged to head to the Gervais St. Bridge in West Columbia, South Carolina, on the morning of April 17 to wish 22 combat veterans well as they embark on a rigorous 8-day river journey. The 175 Mile PTSD River Challenge will take the veterans from Columbia to Charleston on a carefully planned route, with the assistance of river guides, escort vessels and vehicles, HAM Radio operators, and a collaborative group of state agencies and sponsors.
“When people learn that an average of 22 American combat veterans with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder die by their own hand every day they can’t help but get involved,” said Pastor Bobby Farmer, a Vietnam veteran who founded and runs Project Josiah Restoration Ministry which assists veterans suffering from PTSD. “From BP to Starbucks to Walmart, and other many others in our communities, almost everyone who has heard about this challenge has stepped forward in some way.”
Now Farmer and his event collaborators are asking the communities, paddlers and kayak clubs along the route to Charleston, to come out and paddle for a short distance with the group or cheer them on from the shores.
“We’ll be tweeting from the water where we can and posting Facebook photos. This is no small challenge, after all. Naturally, weather and tides will be a factor, but we know exactly how far we have to paddle each hour of each day,” said Susan Benesh, MS, AGNP-C, FAWM. Benesh is a Nurse Practitioner who is also a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. She has spent decades working in the field doing medical missions and disaster relief with the Red Cross in the wake of catastrophes. She’s one of the chief organizers of the challenge, an accomplished paddler, and will accompany the group on the water. “Most of the veterans who’ll be with us served in Afghanistan and Iraq and their lives were forever changed in some way not very long ago.”
The launch, the route, and the landing
The group will gather at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 17 to depart from the Gervais St. Bridge in Columbia. They will paddle by day and camp by night, portaging between waterways. The goal will be to conclude the challenge in Charleston at The Citadel’s boathouse in the early afternoon of April 24 where a welcoming party of families, friends, Citadel Cadets, volunteers from the American Red Cross, The Patriot Guard, and Combat Veteran motorcyclists will be waiting.
The community is invited to campus at 171 Moultrie St. to gather at the boathouse at approximately 1 p.m. to greet the group. Cadets will direct visitors to parking areas and the dock. Motorcycles are not permitted on campus and will be directed to park in the Congress St. lot behind the Holiday Alumni Center at 69 Hagood Ave.
The long list of sponsors and supporting partners for the 175 Mile PTSD River Challenge continues to grow. BP for example, is hosting the group with home cooked meals, a marshmallow roast and other surprises at the BP Cooper River Recreational Center along the route.
“BP is proud of our long-standing commitment to America’s veterans and our more than 200 employees are honored to host them at our Cooper River facility,” said plant manager Mark Fitts. “BP recognizes that Posttraumatic Stress is a very real challenge for some returning veterans and we are pleased to help raise awareness about this important issue in the Lowcountry and beyond.”
Follow the challenge
To learn more about the 175-mile PTSD River Challenge or to sponsor a veteran or donate equipment, please visit the challenge website. Follow the challenge as its happening to learn where to join the group or see pictures on Twitter, #PTSDChallenge, or on The Citadel’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
- AAC Utility Partners
- American Red Cross
- Barnes & Noble
- Citadel Athletics
- Combat Vets Association
- Goat Island Boat Club
- Hawthorne Pharmacy & Medical Equipment
- NEPC - Northeast Presbyterian Church
- Patriot Guard Riders
- Project Josiah Restoration Ministry
- S.C. Department of Natural Resources
- SC Thrive
- SHPI Advanced Technology
- U.S. Coast Guard, Sector Charleston
- Wentworth Street Dental Associates
- The Citadel