Patrick Axt, a Marine Corps veteran, and Ron Risch, an Army veteran, are both homeless recovering alcoholics looking to turn their lives around. Moved by the story of a friend’s daughter dying at a young age, the two became motivated to raise money for Dayton Ohio’s Children’s Medical center by coordinating a kayaking fundraiser.
Focused on doing good for others, Axt said “The biggest thing is that we want people to know there is hope, even if you’re homeless with addiction issues.”
They planned for Axt to kayak 87 miles upstream on the Great Miami River from Cincinnati to Dayton with Risch bicycling alongside the river to bring supplies and collect donations. He was cheered on by 100 onlookers as he began his journey on Saturday afternoon, and is hoping to land at RiverScape around 6 p.m. Sunday the 31st, in the middle of the 10th annual Celtic Festival.
Both men currently live at the St. Vincent de Paul Center, which provides transitional housing for homeless men, while they are working on getting a degree at Sinclair Community College. Kathleen Shanahan, program coordinator for Montgomery County’s Homeless Solutions, commented that the “Kayaking for Kids” fundraiser “exemplifies that giving back spirit that St. Vincent possesses. I have always been struck by the spirit of people who look out for others even at such a low point in their lives. You feel good about yourselves rather than turning to other substances.”
The goal is to raise money for a Giraffe Omnibed, manufactured by GE Healthcare, which is a warming isolette for premature babies. It essentially simulates the womb. A robotic arm — the “giraffe neck” — moves the heating light up and down, minimizing the trauma of being touched. The hospital recently purchased 10 beds, which cost $45,000 apiece, but would like at least four more.
Donations to the “Kayaking for Kids” fundraiser can be made at www.givetochildren, weebly.com or to Dayton Children’s Medical Center at www.childrensdayton.org/donate.
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