Thursday, June 4, 2009

Colorado River Rafting and EddyFlower’s Vertical Challenge

Article from Paddling Life Magazine
edited by Whitewater Times

Participants in First Descents getting wet on the Colorado for Colorado River Rafting and around the world.
"We're's a great way to raise funds for our mission, while encouraging people to get out and paddle." --First Descents founder Brad Ludden

Now you can get your adrenal glands flowing while getting cash flowing for a good cause.

EddyFlower has teamed up with First Descents for the Third Annual EddyFlower Vertical Challenge, which runs from May 15 through June 15 on rivers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Created as a fundraiser to aid the fight against cancer by garnering donations for First Descents, a Colorado-based charity organization that focuses on young adults with cancer, the event inspires paddlers to paddle as many river runs as they can over the 32-day period for pledged donations. In addition to raising money for First Descents, the paddlers compete for prizes ranging from a seven-day trip to Panama with Boquete Outdoor Advenures for the person who raises the most donations, to a brand new Fluid Solo Kayak to the person who paddles the most vertical feet.

"We're stoked," says First Descents founder Brad Ludden. "It's a great way to raise funds for our mission, while encouraging people to get out and paddle."

The Annual EddyFlower Vertical Challenge is open to all paddlers (kayakers, rafters, canoers and riverboarders) from all states. Teams of up to five people can register online at to compete in one of six divisions (Open, Class V, Class IV, Class III, Weekend Warrior and Women’s) that best match your team’s skill level. Contestants can track the progress of their team and others on the website, where qualifying river runs and other contest rules are available. All funds raised go to First Descents, a non-profit organization that provides whitewater kayaking and other outdoor adventure experiences to promote emotional, psychological and physical healing for young adults with cancer.

Seventeen sponsors are supporting the event with $17,000 in products and contributions for prizes. In the 2008 Vertical Challenge 48 teams totaling 200 competitors ran more than 1,420,000 total feet while raising more than $28,117 for First Descents.

Founded in the summer of 2001 by professional kayaker Brad Ludden, First Descents has grown from one camp in Vail, CO representing Colorado River Rafting to nine planned camps this summer in six different states. Ludden continues to be the driving force and inspiration behind the charity, donating much of his time to helping run day-to-day operations as well as instructing at camps each summer.

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