A man who said river paddling helped him through his depression will now make a 300+ kilometers, seven-day river journey through Saskatchewan to raise awareness and funds for those dealing with mental illness.
Chad Guenter, a Saskatoon ex-pat, plans on paddle-boarding from Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park right into Saskatoon on the South Saskatchewan River. Alongside raising money and awareness, he hopes the trip will also introduce other people with mental illness to the sport that helped him.
“It’s one of those diseases that you can get, but you can also get yelled at for having,” said Guenter. “It’s not like Cancer, no one is going to yell at you for having Cancer, but if you are acting out because you’re depressed, you’re anxious or you have a panic attack… people don’t understand.”
He explained, “If I can get some other people introduced to stand-up paddling and as well being able to help them, what a great way to fix things, no drugs, no medicine, just a little bit of happiness.”
Guenter said the trip will be a tough one, but noted that’s the whole point as those who deal with mental illness have to work through tough times everyday and because of it, he’s rephrased an old military saying to “Keep calm and paddle on.”
“It’s the biggest thing in life,” he said of the slogan. “When stuff starts going sideways, just keep calm, push on and in this case we’re paddling on.”
Guenter’s trip starts on Sept. 16 and will arrive in Saskatoon on Sept. 22. Donations are being accepted at Escape Sports and a steak night is scheduled for the 22nd at the Sutherland Hotel.