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First Descents

Helping Cancer Fighters Climb, Paddle and Surf Past Their Diagnosis

Written on October 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm , by

First Descents founder Brad Ludden takes a crew out for a kayaking adventure. (Photo courtesy of First Descents)

Professional kayaker Brad Ludden knew the power of a great active adventure from a young age. “I was raised in the outdoors growing up in northwest Montana. Each season was a new family adventure, from skiing to camping, fly fishing, kayaking and hiking,” Ludden says. “My favorite memories were formed outside and my passion stayed there.”

So when, at age 13, Ludden had to watch his aunt battle breast cancer, it was only natural for him to turn to the river when he was seeking a way to help those fighting the all-too-common disease. He started teaching teens at a pediatric oncology organization how to kayak and asked, “Why isn’t there anything like this for people like my aunt?” So in 2001, when he was just 18, Ludden created something. That something is now First Descents, designed to help those who have or currently are battling cancer “experience the healing properties of the outdoors.”

We spoke to Ludden to learn more about his unique way to empower young adult survivors and fighters who are among the most underserved demographic of the cancer world.

What is your top memory from your time with First Descents?

Through 11 years of amazing friendships, experiences, adventures, conversations and challenges, I’ve gained priceless perspective on life. I live every day differently because of the time I’ve spent with First Descents.

Keep reading for more about Ludden’s aspirations for First Descents and for details about how you can make a difference.

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