ISHPEMING, Mich.— In early May, Nate Denofre and Don Jokinen will embark on an epic adventure – they will canoe the entire Mississippi River, from start to finish. Denofre is a double amputee and CEO of Courage Incorporated. Jokinen served in the Army Engineers in Iraq and is a 100% combat-disabled Veteran. The trip will last 100 nights across 2,500+ miles from Lake Itsaca, Minn. to the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our biggest goal is to accomplish the fact that ‘what one person can do, another can do,’” says Denofre. “The only disability is in our hearts and the biggest disability is fear.”
Courage, Inc. has been proving this since 2015 by helping disabled Veterans and adults, showing them this perspective. Denofre and founders started the non-profit when he spent 159 nights in the woods with his dog, canoe, and backpack traveling from Silver Lake Basin up to the Copper Country, all to encourage and inspire others.
“Not many amputees do these types of things, and I guess it took notice, henceforth Courage Incorporated,” says Denofre. “If anyone can do this it’s a few Yoopers, I think.”
The Mighty Mississippi will be more miles (2,553) but the Huron Mt Crossing up Lake Superior was almost two months longer.
The May through August adventure will be covered on social media extensively. Courage, Inc. has a YouTube channel with Facebook page where viewers can watch one of the first double amputees along with a disabled Vet canoe the third largest river on Earth, carrying the American flag.
Along almost the entire route, the two will sleep on the banks and shores. “Entirely rustic!” says Denofre.
Denofre hopes his trip generates not only inspiration, but funds as well. Courage, Inc. is blowing up in size. It needs more, newer boats and better gear to not only keep up with their client-demand, but more importantly to keep members safe on rustic adventures. Outdoor gear is expensive and the organization hopes this rare trip will help.
“We want to inspire all those who think they can’t do the things they once loved or something they want to do, but are afraid because of a physical disability or PTSD.”
Denofre says the community has given his non-profit some fantastic gear in the last 5-6 years, but for the epic trip, there are a few specific safety items needed.
They need things such as emergency radios to new backpacks. Gear costs and travel expenses will be around $2,000, and they’ve looked to Upper Peninsula friends to raise the funds.
“All new gear for this trip will be used after the trip in all our Courage, Inc. adventures we offer for free to our disabled community!” says Denofre.
M Bank is taking donations at all branches just for the trip, under the account name ‘Courage Incorporated’ Checks can also be mailed to – Courage, Inc. 551 Adams St., Ishpeming, MI 49849
Courage Incorporated offers 100% free trips and adventures to all disabled Veterans and adults. It is a 100% non profit (501c)3.