Extreme-sports athlete Lonnie Bedwell is a National Geographic 2015 Adventurer of the Year. He has kayaked some of the most challenging whitewater in the world and is responsible for first blind descents of Africa’s fabled Zambezi River and West Virginia’s world-renowned Gauley River. Lonnie is best known for his first descent of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon — an effort successfully completed during 2013 as part of a team of boaters assembled by Team River Runner. A command performance in the Grand Canyon in 2014 resulted in the Adventurer of the Year nomination.

A former Navy Petty Officer, Lonnie was critically injured during 1997 in a hunting accident that instantly took his sight. Nevertheless, he raised three daughters as a single father, teaching them all to hunt and fish — and, against all odds, to drive. Once the girls graduated from high school, Lonnie continued to challenge himself, ultimately becoming a renowned extreme sports athlete. When the threshold for running the Grand Canyon was placed at 1,000 kayak rolls, he took his donated kayak to the pond on his farm and rolled it 1,500 times. The rest is history.

Lonnie has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, summited several of North America’s highest mountains, rock climbs, and is an avid downhill skier when he has time away from roofing work in his hometown of Duggar, IN.

Lonnie’s mission is to motivate and inspire others to embrace life with confidence and courage. Lonnie is dedicated to helping veterans and many others enjoy full lives and while he is an advocate for the blind, blindness does not define either him or his efforts on behalf of others. Lonnie has appeared on The Today Show and Steve Harvey and has been featured in countless publications. He’s the author of the award-winning book 226 (the length in miles of the Colorado River stretch through the Grand Canyon) and shares his passion for life and adventure with audiences around the country. To learn more, please contact Lonnie.

  • Kayak Reflections – The Pond and Beyond

    Kayak Reflections - The Pond and Beyond By Lonnie Bedwell Aug 27, 2017 Feature photo by Kevin Winkler of Shuttershock/Blockhouse Studios As I gather up my kayak and paddling gear and head to my small pond, I start thinking about the first time I made [...]

  • Devil’s Tower – Summitting a 30 Year Vision

    Devil's Tower - Summitting a 30 Year Vision Standing at Devil's Tower ready to attempt to fulfill a dream 30 years in the making.   Blog by Lonnie Bedwell 8/10/2017 All photos by Timmy O'Neill. Click on photos to view larger. Have you [...]

  • Blind kayaker braves New River’s vaunted rapids

    Blind kayaker braves New River’s vaunted rapids John McCoy, Staff Writer Charleston Gazette-Mail July 2, 2017 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/outdoors/20170702/blind-kayaker-braves-new-rivers-vaunted-rapids JOHN McCOY | Gazette-Mail - Even when a rogue wave tips him over, blind kayaker Lonnie Bedwell is able to right his boat with a practiced sweep of his paddle. [...]

What an experience it is to hear Lonnie Bedwell speak about life, adventure and adversity. I have had the great honor of hearing him speak several times and he never disappoints. I found Lonnie to be as down to earth and as genuine as they come. He is by far one of my favorite guest speakers. I can’t wait to see him speak again and hear about his latest adventures.
- Michael White, Director, Center for Adventure & Experiential Learning at Garrett College Adventuresports Institute of Garrett College
“I was so moved by Lonnie’s life experiences. How fortunate our (Garrett College Adventure Sports) students were to have heard his message in-person. I hope we can make his visit a regular occurrence.”
- Michael Logsdon, Executive Director and Professor , Adventuresports Institute of Garrett College
“We’ve got two choices in life, live in fear and pity and go nowhere. Or just live.”
- Lonnie Bedwell
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined.”
- Henry David Thoreau
“My outlook on life has changed since hearing Lonnie’s presentation……complaints seem trivial, I have a much deeper understanding of ‘differently abled’ people, and appreciate what a privileged life I live! Looking forward to having you grace our halls again and again!”
- Terry Peterson Associate Professor , Adventuresports Institute at Garrett College
“A dream is a vision of the mind the eyes have not yet seen.”
- Lonnie Bedwell
“Explore your vision through the rivers of your life.”
- Lonnie Bedwell
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
- Henry Ford