We were sent a great read from our friend, Andrew Stern at Bending Branches Paddles, about an amazing story and an amazing kayak angler, Mike Conneen. We hope you enjoy reading the story as much as we did.
This is an amazing story of human ability and strength, including how kayak fishing is easily one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Kayak fishing allows us to get out on the water and enjoy the great outdoors, regardless of our condition. Catching fish could easily be described as the “icing on the cake” as simply being out on the water, enjoying nature and the serenity is truly what makes kayak fishing the amazing sport that it is. Mike’s story serves as a reminder of how strong the human spirit is, and that we can do anything we put our minds to, regardless of the circumstances.
You can read the original post on the Bending Branches Blog here.
Walking is Highly Underrated.
By: Andrew Stern
For those of you who don’t know me, I work in the marketing department for Bending Branches and handle many of our marketing initiatives. On any given day, I receive 50 to 100 emails, many of which I don’t even have time to respond to. Every once in a while an email comes to me that forces me to stop, read it, read it again, read it once more, and then tell everyone I know. That is what I am doing today.
I’ll start with a question… How important are legs? You know, those two clubs that get you from point A to point B. How often do you think about them? What if they were there but you couldn’t use them? Just laying there, hanging out, teasing you every day. Not something the average person thinks about every day. For Mike Conneen, he’s reminded 100 times a day what that’s like.
Meet Mike Conneen. A 37 year old Administrator from Melbourne, Florida. He’s an avid kayaker angler, conservationist, and volunteer. His therapy… 100+ mile kayaking trips, camping where ever he can find serenity, being alone with nothing but his thoughts. Nothing too exciting so far, but let Mike tell his story for you…
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org on Thursday, January 23, at 9:30am:My name is Mike Conneen and on December 1st, 2013, I joined a core group and paddled 156+ miles of the Indian River Lagoon (IRL Paddle Adventure) with my Bending Branches Angler Classic paddle. I’d love to talk about how awesome the paddle performs in the water but we/you already know that. I’d like to share how well it performs out of the water. 10 years ago I was in a severe ATV accident that left me partially paralyzed from the waist down. I’ve been an avid angler all my life and this accident truly slowed me down until I was introduced to a kayak. We all know for every kayak there is a paddle and my paddle has become much more than a tool to propel my boat. Upon first adapting to kayaks, I found that when I broke the paddle down that I could use the two parts as crutches. These crutch-paddles would become my primary tool for walking to and from the truck and boat ramps and during the IRL Paddle Adventure they took me everywhere. I sometimes got weird looks when in a restaurant as I sat at a table or the bar with my paddle. My paddle walked me to and from the tent for 19 days. It helped me get to the bathroom and showers. With the line hook it helped me pull more than 13 lures and countless yards of line out of the trees and free from our environment during the trip and over 100 lures in 2013. It proved to work great as a shovel when needed and I used the blade to create drawings in the sand. I spent 19 days with it by my side at all times. Without this paddle I would have to carry something else on me at all times in order to walk. Your product has proven to be durable both on and off the water and has tested the sands of time, literally. The stories mine could tell from the last two years are enough to write a book. I’ll be sad to retire it this year but excited to get a new one. I commend Bending Branches on an awesome product and look forward to the many adventures my next paddle will go on. Walking is highly underrated. -Mike Conneen
So, I ask you again… How important do you find your legs to be? A little more than they were a few moments ago?
At Bending Branches, when we come into work every day, we’re excited to be here. Not because of the culture, fun customers, loving fans, or the fact that one of our hobbies is our job (although all those things are definite pluses). No, it’s the people like Mike Conneen that inspire us to be better. It’s people like Mike that remind us what to be thankful for, to give that little bit extra, and continue building paddles that aren’t tools, but a reason to live a better life.
It is my hope that Mike’s story inspires you like it did me. It’s also my hope that your paddle, regardless of who made it, helps you live a healthier, happier, more thankful life.
Walking is highly underrated. Well said, Mike. Well said.
To learn more about Mike and his story, here are two trailers for a documentary being done on him:
Trailer 1: http://vimeo.com/68821446
Trailer 2: http://vimeo.com/73261393