Texas Water Safari Part 8
Finding my low
For the first time in the race I feel like I want to give up. I just sit on my board and can't pull it together. I have no control. The news Is overpowering. I hear a man speaking about local Texas news. After some plugs for local stores he talks about the Texas Water Safari. The very race I'm in. He informs listeners that for the first time in the 50 year history of this race there has been a death of a racer. There aren't alot of details, just that a person had been taken to the hospital for what they believed was dehydration the previous day and his life has ended abruptly today. The message of losing a fellow racer is terrible. I've never met him, and didn't even get his name from the radio. However, I view this trajedy as losing a brother in arms. He was one of us. He shared our love and respect for the Texas paddling community. He was a paddler.
Brad Ellis, Our lost brother
Please take time to read a little about Brad
It may seem odd that I feel the attachment to a person I don't know, but it hits home. Four months prior to this race, I lost my father in-law who I was very close to. This makes me think of this racer's family and what they are going through at this moment. To lose a person that still has so much more left in life, It's not something that's easy to take. So many questions fill the mind.
One of us. Brad (in front) with his paddling partner in the TWS
(through Cottonseed rapids)
Post race, at the awards banquet, I get the full story on our brother.
We've lost him due to Hyponatremia, or easier put, low sodium. Brad Drank copious amounts of water, he just didn't realize the salt intake needed.
Here's a write up by a local Texas newspaper:
As I talk to more people about it I do find more info on Him. Joy Emshoff (a serious Texas paddler) informs me Brad was an organ donor. He was able to donate 8 organs to people that have been waiting for a life saving transplant. I'm sure Joy couldn't see under my Maui Jim shades, but my eyes start to water up. This man had the forethought to check a box at the DMV that would allow the use of his organs and tissue to be donated to others, upon his leaving. It's an emotional moment for me. I wish more people were this giving and thoughtful. What he has done hits home more than most people can imagine.
10 Years ago I had kidney failure. Followed with a year of Dialysis, I received a life saving kidney transplant. I received a second chance at life. What Brad has done is given people like myself the opportunity to regain a life that was nearly lost. He made a choice that most never think of making. He has impacted the lives of many families. He has impacted me.
I have taken away alot from this race. Many memories, painful experiences, highs and lows, but this, I will always remember. Brad is a hero of mine.
It has taken me almost 4 days to write this portion of my Texas experience. I've had to leave the computer and walk away many times. The news still haunts me of losing a paddler.
With the news of his passing during the race, I find it hard to paddle down the river. My speed drops to a low. I can't seem to find a rhythm. I'm slapping at the water and even missing strokes where the blade barely touches the surface. I try to compose myself. It seems like forever until I make it to the Salt Water Barrier, mile 244 the last check point.