Paddlefest hopes more people see nature in a new way

Posted at 8:43 AM, Aug 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-04 22:39:19-04

CINCINNATI -- Over 2,000 people got to enjoy being on the Ohio River Saturday morning for the 17th Annual Ohio River Paddlefest.

The event started with a group of friends who just wanted to get out on the river, said Brewster Rhoads, chairman and founder of Paddlefest.

"Back in 2002, I had a lot of friends who enjoyed paddling," Rhoads said. "We just thought to ourselves, let's get everyone else we know who enjoys the Ohio, and paddling in general, to take a trip together."

The event is aimed at helping participants view the ecosystem of the Ohio River in a new light, but Rhoads said he also hopes to inspire the next generation of people to be passionate about the environment.

Paddlefest raises money for the Outdoor Adventure Clubs of Greater Cincinnati, a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to get more urban teens out into nature for healthy outdoor recreation, education, and conservation opportunities at no expense to participants."

Every month, kids from 24 inner-city high schools in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area participate in events like fishing, camping and paddling sponsored by the OAC.

And these events sometimes turn into something more than just outdoor activities.

"When [the teens] find their passion for the outdoors," Rhoads said, "we help them turn that into a career."