Students from Foundation for Blind Children Take on Colorado River Rapids Thanks to Thunderbirds Charities

Millions of people visit the Grand Canyon each year to take in the majesty of one of the world’s greatest and most revered natural wonders – nearly all of them electing to admire from the top of the rim. But for 13 visually impaired students at the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix (FBC), the goal was something bigger. With help from Thunderbirds Charities – the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – the student group, aptly named the “Trailblazers”, took on the white-water rapids of the Colorado River for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To prepare for the excursion which requires a high level of physical fitness and wilderness education, the Trailblazers completed six hikes and water safety classes including a six-mile round-trip hike and 1,200-foot climb to the top of Mormon Mountain.

“The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon has some of the biggest white water in the U.S. and people travel from all around the world for the opportunity to raft it,” said Chris Hawk, Foundation for Blind Children IT Manager and trip guide. “This trip pushed the students’ limits, strengthened self-confidence and built strong friendships with their peers.”

One of the 13 Trailblazers, Elijah Massey, who has no vision and has attended the FBC since preschool, is seen in the video above taking on one of the Colorado River’s toughest rapids, Lava Falls.

“Despite our training, I was very nervous,” said Melanie Audet, Orientation and Mobility Instructor at the Foundation for Blind Children. “While I was planning for a worse-case scenario, Elijah was having the time of his life. Not once did his smile leave his face. Groups like The Thunderbirds make this experience possible. Thank you.”

Check out Elijah and the Trailblazer’s story in the video above courtesy of Thunderbirds Charities.

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