Freedom Alliance organized a fun and challenging outing for 10 patients and staff of the polytrauma unit at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Riverside Outfitters helped us take the polytrauma patients for a scenic rafting excursion on the James River in May.
The James River has the only rapids to course through a major U.S. city, and we got to experience thick forest and pristine countryside all the way to the urban setting of downtown Richmond. It was six miles of white water that jolted us over Class II to Class IV rapids.
Due to an enthusiastic headwind, the rafters were made to use their oars quite a bit in order to push downriver, providing a robust workout. Lunch was taken on Belle Isle, which was a prisoner-of-war camp for the Confederacy during the Civil War.
Only one patient fell out of a raft into the rapids, which happened in view of Hollywood Cemetery and which earned him the nickname, “Hollywood.” Others fell out on purpose to cool off, and all were happy to be away from the hospital on such a beautiful day.
Curtis, a recreational therapist with the polytrauma unit, said the next day, “Everyone is still talking about yesterday and how that was the best time they have had.”
Last year, we scheduled the same rafting trip with a different group of injured service members, and it was a hit with them, too, making us think the James River ought to be an annual affair. Recreational therapy, such as this river rafting trip, makes for an enjoyable diversion and alternative to hospital treatments.