$7,500 and Under
$7,500 and Under
Blind extreme-sports athlete Lonnie Bedwell is a National Geographic 2015 Adventurer of the Year. He has kayaked some of the most challenging whitewater in the world and is responsible for the first blind descents of Africa’s fabled Zambezi River’s Batoka Gorge and West Virginia’s world-renowned Gauley River. Prior to May 2023, Bedwell was best known for the first blind descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon — an effort successfully completed in 2013 as part of a team assembled by Team River Runner. A command performance in the Grand Canyon in 2014 resulted in the Adventurer of the Year nomination.
A former Navy Petty Officer, Bedwell was critically injured in 1997 in a hunting accident that instantly took his sight. Nevertheless, he raised three daughters as a single father, teaching them all to hunt and fish — and, against all odds, to drive. Once the girls graduated from high school, Bedwell continued to challenge himself, ultimately becoming a renowned extreme sports athlete.
When the threshold for running the Grand Canyon was placed at 1,000 kayak rolls, he took his donated kayak to the pond on his farm and rolled it 1,500 times. The rest is history.
Bedwell is now attempting to climb the highest peaks on all 7 continents and has successfully completed Kilimanjaro in Africa, Aconcagua in South America, Denali in North America, and on May 22, 2023, he summited Mount Everest in Asia. These journeys require dedicated teamwork and high-stakes problem-solving and underscore the energy and passion that Bedwell brings to his audiences. He also rock climbs and is an avid downhill skier when he has time away from roofing work in his hometown of Duggar, IN.
His mission is to motivate and inspire others to embrace life with confidence and courage. Bedwell is dedicated to helping others to enjoy full lives and while he is an advocate for children and veterans with disabilities. Blindness does not define either him or his efforts on behalf of others. He has appeared on The Today Show, Steve Harvey, the Breaking Booby Bones television show, and has been featured in the documentary films: Feel of Vision, Dreamline Blind, Long River Home, and countless other publications. He’s the author of the award-winning book “226” (the length in miles of the Colorado River stretch through the Grand Canyon) and shares his passion for life and adventure with audiences around the country.
Lonnie’s talks are customizable. Some of his most popular speaking topics are:
– Overcoming Adversity
– Trust and Vulnerability
– Kayaking and other Extreme Adventure Stories
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