About a week ago I got this great email from a colleague telling me all about this recent college graduate who is embarking on a 15-month adventure around the Great Loop. (I confess I didn't know what the Great Loop is so I looked it up: The Great Loop is a continuous waterway around the eastern United States and Canada... The route ranges from 5,000 to 7,500 miles, passing through many states and several climate zones. Source: http://www.paddleforwells.com)
So, needless, to say... the Great Loop is basically an extraordinary waterway that would be no easy or quick trip for anyone. And what's more? Josh Tart is going to paddle the whole thing in his kayak. (This is where you and I have the same reaction -- WHAT!!??!)
Starting today, Josh's adventure to paddle the Great Loop begins in Cincinnati, Ohio where he'll paddle the Ohio River to the Mississippi Rivers, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Coast, Hudson River, New York canals, Great Lakes, and the Illinois River back to Mississippi. For the next 15 months, Josh and his kayak will paddle away, covering miles of water and raising awareness about the need for clean water in Africa and child sponsorship with Team World Vision.
Check out my interview with Josh, and leave a comment of luck for him to this post. Good luck, Josh, and thanks for paddling for Team World Vision!
Lindsey (L): Your trip is unique... why did you decide to paddle the Great Loop?
Josh (J): I grew up on the waters of the East Coast and my dad has always talked about wanting to cruise the Great Loop. About a year ago, I started wondering what it would take to kayak the Great Loop. I have been doing research ever since then, and this past March when I connected with Team World Vision, I decided that I had to try it since I could do something I love, all while doing missions work.
L: Is it the greatness of the adventure or the "missions" part that really makes this trip meaningful for you?
J: Like you said, it is unique and I don’t think many people ever slow down enough to notice all the great parts of our country. This trip is about taking life more slowly, showing people some of the interesting sites along the way, and raising money and awareness for those that don’t have the most basic need: water.
L: The need for clean water in Africa... is that how you came across World Vision?
Josh does some backyard training in his pool. Photo courtesy of Josh Tart.
J: My family has sponsored children through World Vision in the past and I have always been impressed with the work you do and the way you manage your resources. When looking for a charity to support, I wanted to do something with clean water development, and, of course, there are numerous organizations that do that kind of work. However, as a Christian, it is also important to me that the organization I support shares the message and hope of Christ with the people that they help, and World Vision does all of that.
L: Having not started your trip yet, what goals do you have for yourself?
J: Well, when all is said and done, I will have paddled over 6,000 miles. To the best of my knowledge, if I finish the Loop, I will be the first to do it in a “sit-on-top” kayak. But also, one of my side goals for the trip is to catch as many fish species as possible, and I hope to raise the same number of child sponsorships.
L: And what will keep you motivated as your paddling for the next 15 months?
J: I believe the thought of new things and places to discover will keep me interested in paddling every day. I’ll be meeting new people each day and continually moving on. In the end, the thing that will keep me going when all else fails is that this trip is about something bigger than me – it is about helping others.
For updates during Josh's trip, you can follow his daily blog at www.paddleforwells.com or follow him on Twitter @paddletart.
Also check out Cincinnati.com's article on Josh's trip.
Looking to get involved with Team World Vision? Search the events we're already at or choose your own at TeamWorldVision.com