Canoeing 2,552 Miles to Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking

On May 26, 2018, Minnesotans Keanu and Sarah Krech will launch their canoe at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. They’ll spend the next two or three months on a mission to paddle over 2,000 miles to the Gulf of Mexico…

keanu and sarah will canoe the mississippi

Their mission isn’t just the physical challenge, though. On their GoFundMe page, Keanu shares:

“One of my favorite organizations doing incredible things to fight injustice in the world—is Venture. Their motto is ‘We do tough things for people in tough places.’ So that's what Sarah and I are going to do. We’ll be sacrificing our money, time, and physical strength and endurance to raise awareness and money for a great organization.”

Why Canoeing?

Keanu was part of a cross-country bike trip two years ago. Their goal was to raise money for a cause and organization they believed in.

He experienced both the rigors and fulfillment of taking on that kind of personal challenge—and yet realizing how much harder life is for the people they were supporting.

Doing something that opened the door for others to give, too—to make a bigger impact than they could do alone—was life-changing.

While he was still on the bike trip, Keanu was already thinking ahead to what his next adventure could be. It was then he decided it would be paddling the Mississippi River.

He met Sarah shortly after, and they were married in July of 2017. They decided canoeing the Mississippi, from the headwaters to the Gulf, was an adventure they wanted to tackle together.

Their Cause: Anti-Human Trafficking

Keanu and Sarah didn’t just want to do this trip for the adventure of it. They wanted to give their time and effort to a great cause, too.

They decided to partner with Women At Risk, International (WAR). WAR provides support and hope for women and children who are victims of human trafficking, as well as education and world-wide partnerships to fight it.

Every dollar the Krech’s raise will go directly to WAR.

“Simple telling people about [trafficking] isn’t catalytic to anything happening. Because, really, they don’t know what to do. Yeah, this is heartbreaking, but what can we do to stop it? So we’re going to do something difficult, to make people aware of the issue, to give them to chance to give money to help stop it.” 

How They’re Preparing for Their Trip

When I asked Keanu and Sarah if they’ve canoed before, they both laughed! They had each paddled just once before…Keanu, when he was a kid.

But they’re not daunted. They both love outdoor adventures. And they’ve been getting plenty of tips from experienced canoeists, including a man who paddled the length of the Mississippi with three others in 2017. They also appreciated the great advice they’ve received from Andrew, Bending Branches’ Marketing Supervisor.

Keanu and Sarah’s first wedding anniversary will be on July 4th, during their trip. Their goal is to be in Hannibal, Missouri by that date so they can experience Tom Sawyer Days. To Sarah, the idea of a frog jumping contest sounds like a lot of fun!

Partnering with Bending Branches

The Krech’s will be using Bending Branches’ Black Pearl II and Java ST paddles for their trip. They’ve loved partnering with the Branches team for this adventure:

"We're super thankful to Bending Branches for partnering with us. Not only do they make outstanding paddles, but they are also truly passionate about people. The help and encouragement we received from Andrew will go a long way on this trip. We are honored to have their paddles in our hands."

If you’d like to help Keanu and Sarah reach their fundraising goal and learn more about their trip, go to their GoFundMe page.

If you’d like to follow Keanu and Sarah’s Mississippi trip they’ve set up a Facebook page called Canoeing for a Cause.

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