Museum Honors Bold River Journey
As it honors the service and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, The National WWII Museum strives to pass on the war generation’s values, celebrating young people whose actions and goals reflect our country’s highest ideals.
In that spirit, just before the opening of a new Victory Belles holiday show in the Stage Door Canteen, the Museum today honored a rare achievement by 11 young adults participating in a bold educational venture of the Minneapolis-based Wild River Academy. Over the course of 70 days, these adventuresome women and men canoed virtually the entire length of the Mississippi River – roughly 2,000 miles – as they gathered video and information for a documentary about the relationship between the legendary river and watershed communities. The trip ended safely in New Orleans just in time for Thanksgiving.
In a proclamation delivered with fanfare by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council also hailed the achievement and offered a hearty welcome.
Drawn from communities around the country, the Wild River Academy participants recorded many thousands of paddle strokes each day. Others attending the midday “A Swingin’ Christmas” show at the Museum were stunned at the feat.
“How did you do it?” one asked group member Anna Johnson.
“We just got up early each day and paddled until it was night,” she said.
As they canoed down the Mississippi, dodging hazards and interacting with all sorts of people, the Paddle Forward expedition members were tracked online by roughly 40 classrooms around the country. Some of the young adults plan to visit and collect more information – this time from dry land – in riverside communities as they drive back toward Minneapolis. More information on their journey and education project can be found on http://paddle4ward.com/.
Paddle Forward participants:
Martha Brummitt, 24, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Erika Gotcher, 23, Madison, Wisconsin
John Hartzheim, 24, Greenbrier, Tennessee
Eric Immler, 23, Woodruff, Wisconsin
Anna Johnson, 24, Evanston, Illinois
Elizabeth Just, 23, Middleton, Wisconsin
Nicholas Ryan, 24, Naperville, Illinois
Sarah Schaefer, 24, Mount Desert Island, Maine
Lee Vue, 24, Fresno, California
Natalie Warren, 25, Miami, Florida
Sami Pfeffer, 25, Concord, North Carolina