Paddling for Everyone

     Kevin Carr of Wenonah Canoe has his own business of designing paddling accessories called Chosen Valley Canoe Accessories.  The part of his business he really enjoys is making accessories so people with disabilities can paddle a canoe or kayak.  His products were featured recently on a Madison, WI television station.  There’s a video clip on their website and here’s the story.

Posted Saturday September 27, 2008 — 3:55 pm
By Zac Schultz

Devil’s Lake State Park: A little more balance is opening up a whole new world of independence for people with disabilities.

"It’s fun. It’s a beautiful day. It’s fun to be gliding across the water. It’s just gorgeous." Jane Schmeiding looks like any other kayaker out on the water.

Only two small outriggers give away that her kayak is any different. "It’s just so normal," says Jane. "It’s just feeling like I’m just another boater and can go where I want to go on the lake."

But Jane has MS, and she enjoys the extra security provided by her this adapted kayak. "I’m in command of my own boat. I don’t have to wait for someone else to take me where I want to go."

"When you’re out on the water there’s no limits," says Andy Janicki, who is behind this adaptive paddling event at Devil’s Lake State Park. He’s the Accessibility Coordinator for the DNR, and new to adaptive paddling himself. He needed a friend to paddle him around after an accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. "It was pretty amazing. This was the first place I went paddling by myself. It was a pretty amazing feeling. It had been four years since I paddled my own boat."

Kevin Carr is behind the seat technology. "The whole idea of this system is to provide that lateral support and a high enough back support that they feel secure in the kayak. The whole point is to make the person one with the kayak."

Carr designs canoe and kayak accessories, and says there’s no better feeling than helping someone regain their independence. "This is lifechanging. You watch the faces of people who get out there for the first time."

And the people in the kayak agree. "It’s a very liberating thing, being out on the water," says Andy.

"It gives a whole sense of freedom," says Jane.