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Belinda Lee's Fundraiser:

Go! supports Jose's kayak quest

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Belinda Lee


In July 2013 Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) supported bringing under-served youth from Chicago and Detroit to kayak.  These youth were part of the Gitchi Gummee Project (GGP) at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium.  This was Jose’s first exposure to sea kayaking.  Though he is quiet by nature, kayaking allowed Jose to blossom.  Though he started cautiously, by his third day paddling he was already surfing on Lake Superior. This began the foundation for more on the water adventures.  A few weeks later he was out paddling once again with CAT founder Andrea Knepper and other local instructors.  Jose paddled with confidence in the Detroit River and its swirling currents. 

By September he switched to another kayak type - a whitewater kayak.  Again Jose took to the water with enthusiasm, and by the end of the trip he was playing in standing waves!   His spirit infected the Michigan paddling community and lead to the founding of GO!- Get Outside.

Go!, like CAT, is focused on getting Michigan youth outside to challenge them to grow to greater levels of confidence both on and off the water.  Go! Is a fledgling Detroit group trying to support youth like Jose.

Jose’s growth continued with CAT when he and Andrea went to the East Coast Paddlesports and Outdoor Festival this spring.  For Jose it was a trip of many firsts, including his first plane trip and his first time paddling in salt water (complete with a dolphin sighting).

Go! Supported Jose’s skills by taking him kayaking in Jackson, Michigan where he got to help introduce a school mate to kayaking.  You can begin to know how touched I was by Jose when he discretely paddled over inquiring about how his school mate was doing.  At the end of the paddle Jose in his quiet confidence hopped on a paddleboard and gracefully paddled out into the lake.

A full year later Jose returned to 2014 GGP ready to take on the role of a youth leader.  GO! and CAT made it possible for him to participate in the event.  Jose showed just what a year taught him - he was an amazing leader for the fledgling paddlers!  He demonstrated a wet exit as well as showing just how easy it is to stand up in a kayak.  His other on-the-water skills improved so much that the coaches singled him out for a special award.  Werner Paddles gave him a custom-fit paddle of his choice.

His paddling skills, and perhaps more to the point his increased leadership abilities and confidence, impressed Andrea so much she has included him in the CAT trip to the San Juan Islands.  On August 2nd Jose will embark on his next great adventure and head to Chicago to join five Chicago youth to fly  to Seattle and then to five days of paddling. 

So this is where GO! is asking folks from Michigan and beyond to help offset some of the costs CAT is shouldering for Jose.  We here in Michigan are so pleased and appreciative that CAT, a Chicago-based organization that works with Chicago youth, has extended an invitation to Jose to join them. 


So let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

His transportation and food for the train trip to Chicago is $60.00

The flight to and from Seattle is $612.70

His share of food and the van ride to and from the outfitter for the trip $200

The outfitter and guide cost is $660.00

Lodging in Chicago when he gets back and food is $220.00


And finally his food and the trip home by train is $80.00

Which brings us to $1832.70


Jose’s journey as a paddler is best described by him when I explained all the pieces that came together for GGP, the Detroit River paddle and the whitewater trip.  He said “it sounds like a labor of love”.  I fought back the tears when he said that.  And once alone in the car I cried.  He summed it simply!  Please join CAT and GO! in this labor of love allowing Jose to continue to grow as paddler and as a young man!



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