1,000 Miles and Still Paddling

Hector Manley ’12 Aims to Paddle the Entire Mississippi River This Summer

Published: Jul 2, 2012
Hector Manley is in the process of paddling the entire Mississippi River in an effort to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Wheelchair Foundation.
Hector Manley is in the process of paddling the entire Mississippi River in an effort to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Wheelchair Foundation.
Manley averages about 50 miles a day of paddling.
Manley averages about 50 miles a day of paddling.
Hector Manley ’12 counts seeing the Mississippi River for the first time as one of his most memorable experiences so far in his fundraising campaign, called Paddling for a Purpose.

“I crossed it in LaCrosse, WI, in the car on the way to the start, and it really took me by surprise,” said Manley, who plans to kayak the entire river this summer. “It was a lot bigger than I expected.”

If his kayak had an odometer, it would have rolled past 1,000 miles this weekend.

“Wow!!! 1000 miles DONE! I feel accomplished already,” Manley wrote on his Facebook page on June 28. “Only 1400 miles left to New Orleans. Thank you everyone for your support.”

Manley is in the process of paddling the entire river in an effort to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project and the Wheelchair Foundation. He put his kayak in at Lake Itasca, MN, and hopes to complete his goal and arrive in New Orleans after 100 days of paddling.

“Day One was amazing. Just putting in at Lake Itasca was the beginning of something great,” said Manley, despite the 40 degree chill and rain that greeted him after a sleepless night in anticipation. “I wanted to complete day one, because I knew I would not quit until I got to New Orleans.”

Manley, a double amputee, lost his legs in an accident in his native El Salvador. It’s one of the reasons he chose his two charities for which he’s already raised $27,000, more than half his $50,000 goal. When the trip is over, he hopes to deliver in person the wheelchairs purchased with a portion of the funds raised. He has several speaking engagements set up to promote both the Wheelchair Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project and is writing a book about this whole experience and his life as a double amputee.

He’ll stop in St. Louis, MO, to celebrate the July 4 holiday and spend five days on land to explore the arch and catch a baseball game. From there he’ll paddle on to Memphis, TN, where he’ll get to spend some time with his grandparents who will fly in from Ohio to spend the week with Manley in the city.

“The trip has been just about what I expected but a little bit harder than I thought,” said Manley, who is paddling up to 50 miles a day and has had some challenges with strong wind. The opportunity to accomplish his goal more than makes up for it, he wrote on Facebook.

“SO thankful and Blessed to be following my dream.”

To follow Manley’s journey, check out his blog or Facebook page.