MISSISSIPPI RIVER (WJMN) – Back in February, we told you about the Yoopers preparing to canoe the entire Mississippi River to inspire those with disabilities. They have since embarked on their journey.
“What one man can do, another man can do.” These are words that inspire Nate Denofre and Don Jokinen as they travel down the Mighty Mississippi.
Denofre is a double-amputee and Jokinen a disabled combat veteran; and on May 8th they set off on their 2,500-mile-long adventure.
“This is grueling. It’s anything but just floating down the river. It’s nonstop work. We’re doing it to inspire people, veterans, and people with physical disabilities, to get out and enjoy outside; perspective. If one person can do it, another person can do it. I think Donny and I prove that every day,” said Denofre.
People along the way have been helping the duo any way they can. They call them their River Angels.
“[They give us] rides to towns, directions, advice, a place to sleep multiple times, whether it be a tent in their yard […] It seems that they offer help at the most time needed. Especially after hours and hours of nonstop paddling. We’re exhausted. It’s great. Even fresh laundry and stuff like that. They’re phenomenal,” said Denofre.
Denofre and Erik Conradson cofounded Courage Inc., a nonprofit that helps indviduals and veterans with disabilities participate in outdoor wilderness-based adventures.
Conradson keeps their social media updated with the Mississippi adventure.
“With everything we’ve seen up to this point with the challenges on the river, the challenges of support because of the pandemic. There are so many curve balls to overcome. It represents a lot of what we stand for and I think that’s why Nate and Don are out there doing it, is to show people ‘Listen, life isn’t always easy it’s not always fair, it’s how you react to it. That’s how you can make the best of it,'” said Conradson, executive director of Courage Inc.
As of May 26, they were outside the city of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
To watch a live tracker of Denofre and Jokinen’s trip and how to donate to Courage Inc, you can click the following links: