Lonnie Bedwell was a National Geographic’s 2015 Adventurer of the Year. He has kayaked down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and the Gauley River in West Virginia – both among the most challenging stretches of whitewater in the world. He has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and likes to downhill ski when he has time away from his work installing roofs in his hometown in southern Indiana. Lonnie’s adventures are all the more extraordinary because he’s blind.
A former Navy Petty Officer, Lonnie was injured in a hunting accident that took his sight instantly. That didn’t stop him from raising three daughters as a single father, taking them hunting and fishing, even teaching them to drive. And it didn’t stop him from becoming a renowned extreme sports athlete. Told he couldn’t paddle down the Grand Canyon unless he rolled a kayak 1,000 times, he took his kayak to a pond on his farm and rolled 1,500 times. He’s the first blind person to kayak down the Grand Canyon, Zambezi and the Gauley.
Lonnie’s mission is to motivate and inspire others – those who can’t see and those who can – to embrace life with confidence and courage. He’s an advocate for the blind, helping veterans and others live full lives. He has appeared on The Today Show, Steve Harvey and has been featured in countless publications. He’s the author of 226 (the number of miles the Colorado surges through the Grand Canyon) and shares his passion for adventure and overcoming obstacles with audiences around the country.