Adding Adventure to Healing

First Descents: challenging outdoor sports for young adults with cancer

Nov 26, 2013

Image from First Descents Facebook page

Brad Ludden felt helpless after hearing that his aunt was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to help, but what could he do? As a professional whitewater kayaker, Ludden decided to offer what he does best, and took a group of cancer survivors to kayak on the river.
That’s how First Descents - a nonprofit that provides free challenging outdoor experiences to young cancer fighters and survivors - was born 12 years ago. Now active in 15 different states and 6 countries, First Descents serves 600 young adults a year with a range of free programs that focus on individualized care and medical attention. First Descents puts the emphasis on living, and encourages young people who felt weakened both physically and emotionally by their diagnosis to push the limits.
The participants get to surf, climb and paddle beyond their cancer, all the while connecting with others who are going through similar experiences.
The life-changing experience is fully captured by a documentary about First Descents called Out Living It, in addition to poignant participant testimonials on the site. While the nonprofit has a number of notable ambassadors like Trista Sutter and Travis Stork spreading the word, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and show just how much life and adventure there is after cancer.

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