Naval officer kayaks entire Ohio River to fundraise for Parkinson’s disease

Naval officer kayaks entire Ohio River to fundraise for Parkinson’s disease
Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 3, 2022 at 10:56 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but one Naval officer is trying to change that by kayaking the entire Ohio River, raising money along the way.

Taylor Dewey is on the last leg of his 32-day kayaking adventure, and his last pit stop was in Evansville.

The Naval officer doesn’t need a lot with him to kayak 981 miles, just a few bags.

“Everything I need is in the kayak,” said Dewey. “I’ve got a tent, I’ve got a camp stove, I carry all my food, books, things like that.”

Before finishing up the last stretch of his journey, the staff at the LST 325 held his kayak for him while he took a rest day.

“LST 325, naturally being in the Navy I saw that on the map and I immediately called them the day prior to arriving and said, ‘Hey, I’m taking a rest day in Evansville is there any chance I could maybe tie up my kayak there?’” Dewey said.

“We’re a Navy ship, he’s a Navy man,” said LST 325 operations coordinator Amanda Tucker. “I kind of felt almost, not obligated, but honorable because who else was he going to call?”

Every year, Dewey goes on some sort of adventure while on leave from the Navy to decompress from stressful deployments. He’s kayaked and biked his way around the whole country.

“It’s a great way to convene with nature and relax a little bit,” he said. “It’s a great way to travel, honestly. Either that or on a bicycle.”

But this trip is for more than just sightseeing. With every mile on his trip, he raises more money for Parkinson’s disease awareness.

“Parkinson’s disease, a terrible disease, it affects millions of people worldwide,” said Dewey. “Like most families, I had someone who was affected by Parkinson’s. My grandmother tragically lost her life to the disease a dozen years ago.”

Dewey’s grandmother gave him a love for the outdoors. He knew he wanted to raise money in honor of her battle with Parkinson’s, and an adventure was the best way he knew how.

“I like to challenge myself mentally and physically, and it is challenging but it’s nothing compared to what people deal with on a daily basis who are fighting Parkinson’s,” Dewey said.

“I’m kind of jealous of him,” said Tucker, as she watched him load up for the last of his adventure.

The LST crew was ready to help him along the way.

“Even if we were just a small percent of a contribution to his journey, I feel like that’s good enough for us,” Tucker said.

He took off, back on the open water, having already raised over his $2,000 goal amount, working to raise more with every mile.

Dewey is finishing his journey all the way to Cairo, Illinois, where he says his dad will be there to pick him up.

All proceeds raised will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research.

You can click here to donate.

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