Community BBQ Sends Wounded Worries Home with Love

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Wounded veterans enjoyed a BBQ potluck send off party at Cinnamon Bay on November 5. The party was hosted by the Americal Legion Viggo E. Sewer Post #131, AARP and was supported by numerous volunteers and residents to say goodbye to members of Team River Runner who spent a week of kayaking and healing at Cinnamon Bay Campground.

Thanks to the effort and support of many St. John residents and businesses, Team River Runner wrapped up another successful trip to Love City last week.

TRR, a part of the Wounded Warriors Program, was founded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2004 by Washington, D.C. area kayak enthusiast Joe Mornini. By combining the physical demands and adrenaline of kayaking with the community networking — each veteran is invited to bring a loved one — TRR hit upon the perfect path toward health and healing for wounded veterans.

Since starting out in Washington D.C., today there are veteran-led TRR programs at veterans hospitals across the country, and the group hosts trips from Maine to Florida.

TRR has been visiting St. John waters for health and healing since 2007. While the group was forced to cancel its 2008 trip due to lack of funds, TRR didn’t have to worry about that this year.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts spearheaded by John Schuld, St. John raised enough money to cover all expenses for the 29 veterans and family members who spent a week at Cinnamon Bay October 30 through November 6.

In addition to kayaking the majority of the North Shore, from Waterlemon Cay to Trunk Bay, veterans also enjoyed day sails on local charter boats, snorkeling trips and meals at a number of local restaurants.

TRR’s week of sport and camaraderie wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, November 5, with a BBQ potluck party at Cinnamon Bay which featured everything from local fish to deep fried turkey with all the trimmings hosted by the America Legion Viggo E. Sewer Post #131 and the local AARP chapter.

“The group had an amazing trip this year and we look forward to coming back,” said veteran Jared Bolhuis, who led the St. John program this year. “The community was so welcoming and supportive, it was great.”

Although TRR recently left Love City’s shores, St. John residents are already planning fund raisers to ensure the group continues its healing trips to the island. Skinny Legs owner Moe Chabuz will be running the 8 Tuff Miles Road Race in February as a fundraiser for the group and Schuld is planning the second annual Chaotic Kayak Race, which raised more than $20,000 for TRR in August.

TRR continues to need donations and support of all kinds. To find out how to help check out the group’s website at www.teamriverrunner.org.