Updated: June 10, 2021 06:56 PM
Created: June 10, 2021 06:19 PM
The mighty Mississippi has carried so many messages. This summer, Joe Solomon is paddling it with one about mental health.
He is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and started "Kayaking 4 a Cause" June 1. He plans to paddle the entire 2,350 miles of the Mississippi in 70-90 days.
He has made it 200 miles so far to Grand Rapids, where he spent a couple days recuperating from a cracked tooth that needed to be extracted.
But Solomon is not deterred. He found peace through paddling after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in 2012.
"It took a good six years to get back to some semblance of normalcy," he said. "I started paddling to get that nature healing plus I was like, well why don't I just represent others as well that have mental health conditions to let them know that they're not alone and that we're all in this together."
He said many people don't have a voice in their own mental health conditions, and he wants to be both an advocate and a source of hope.
"Basically, what I'm talking about out here is love and community around somebody with a mental health condition can help them to live a better life," Solomon said. "I'm a prime example of that. There's been a lot of love and community around me that has helped me to thrive with this horrible mental condition that I have."
He's also fundraising for Adventure Crew, a Cincinnati organization that takes kids from inner-city schools into nature.
"The way I look at it, they are the future leaders of this country," he said. "So why not get them into the outdoors and have an appreciation for Mother Nature and what she has to offer for us."
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