KNOTT COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A group of five blind veterans will travel to the Grand Canyon in September and kayak 226 miles. One of those veterans is from right here in Kentucky.
Thirteen years ago in Iraq, Travis Fugate’s life changed forever.
"I was injured by a roadside bomb. I lost my vision and had a traumatic brain injury," said Fugate, who was deployed as a member of the Kentucky Army National Guard.
All of that did not stop Fugate, who is now preparing for a kayaking trip with four other blind veterans at the Grand Canyon. The veterans will solo kayak, guided by other veterans and volunteers.
"I was the first blind person in the program, so I was afraid that I was going to be limited to kayaking in a swimming pool," he said.
The program is called Team River Runner and it helps veterans find health and adventure through paddle sports. This led to a spinoff called Team Vision.
"I’m incredibly excited. This is a huge adventure, a huge opportunity. I never thought I’d be able to do something like this even before I lost my vision," said Fugate.
Leading up to the big adventure, Team Vision has met at several training sites throughout the country. Fugate is also lucky enough to be able to kayak in his own backyard in Car Creek Lake in Knott County.
"It’s given me confidence to come home and take on the challenges of everyday life as a disabled person," he said.
To learn more about Team River Runner and to follow them on their adventure, click here.