Frequently, as I paddle beside a disabled veteran at a Team River Runner event, I am asked, "Janet, why do you do this"?
Team River Runner, a national organization with more than 50 local chapters, is dedicated to creating health and healing through kayaking. It has occupied my time after my premature retirement from medical practice six years ago, as I have been the Veteran Outreach coordinator, event planner, photographer, ACA instructor, and mentor to the Chapter Coordinator for the Cincinnati chapter.
The easy answer is I "get" disability because I have one. I don't have the use of my thumbs so I hold the kayak paddle with my outer fingers. I need aid getting into and out of a kayak and adaptations to sit comfortably, so I understand the power of a little help from friends to enjoy an active sport.
But the real answer stems from the veterans who were my patients at Hines VA during my long-ago medical school days at Loyola-Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. The veterans showed incredible patience as I struggled with the rigors of surgical rotations there. They were my ardent supporters and I'm honoring their generosity by paying it forward...