My nomination for paddler of the month is Matt Hopkinson. Why you might ask if you know him? Well, I do believe it has to do with his inherit inbreed love of being in the outdoors and being on the water. The vessel does not seem to matter as he’s at home on the rivers, lakes, and ocean. A canoe, a kayak, maybe a raft, it’s all the same to him.
Jim O’Brien was many things to many people. No matter what hat he wore in your life, he was always just a super guy. Many of us know Jim for all he did for the paddling community. Whether it be clearing local runs of hazards, teaching many of us to paddle or helping with safety at local events Jim always came through and gave back in big ways.
Rob Larkham is well known to many of us, and a leader in the local paddling community.
Last March, Jim O’Brien, a very close friend of his, died in a paddling accident. Rob was there supporting Jim’s family and the paddling community, while dealing with his own grief. I believe most of you are aware of all he has done in memory of his friend and ours: the memorial service, the Knightville paddle afterwards, the raffle to raise money for “Jim’s kids” in the outdoor recreation program at Putnam High School, spending time in the outdoors with the kids in the Putnam outdoor club, and even wearing the dress at Deerfield Riverfest because someone accepted his challenge and bought a lot of raffle tickets!
As America’s first Olympic medalist in whitewater slalom, Jamie McEwan’s bronze medal finish in C-1 in 1972 inspired a new generation of paddlers to strive for excellence in whitewater competition. As a veteran competitor, he has been at the forefront of recent efforts to encourage and support the participation of American youth in whitewater competition.