Blind Man succeeds at paddling 65 miles for Cystic Fibrosis - July 24, 2012

July 24, 2012 - Miami, FL: It began on Friday, July 20, 2012.  At 8 a.m., they arrived at Canoe Safari in Arcadia.   For one of the most important paddling trips in the series of paddling events planned in the last 20 years and for the next few years.  Up till now, most trips had been in areas much lower at Peace River in Florida.  This time, it would be Fort Mead; a place that had not been visited by customers of Canoe Safari in well over 12 years. This time, it would take over 20 miles per day to get the trip done.  This time, it would be for a great cause.  See, Jose has a daughter with Cystic Fibrosis and he has decided to paddle the Peace River to find a cure for this disease.  See, Jose is blind and is not afraid to do what it takes to find a way to cure his daughter and the many kids that have Cystic Fibrosis.

They arrived at Fort Mead and unloaded all the gear.  It was 10 a.m. before they were ready to start the journey of their lives.  At 10:30 a.m., we can’t get across, said one in the group.  “Why not,” asked Jose.  This patch of lily pads is covering the entire width of the river and the roots are well below the water.  The patch of lily pads is about 50 feet ahead and we cannot get through.  Let’s go back, let’s call the outfitter so he can pick us up, said another.  No, we cannot go back, we must continue.  We must look for ways to get across this patch even if we have to forage on the bank of the river to find a way.  Let’s go, let’s try to find a way to get around it if we can’t get through it; exclaimed Jose.  You don’t understand, the pads are full of spiders of all sizes, most of them about two inches in size; continued another in the group.  We are facing a large number of spiders, probably thousands of them, exclaimed another.

The challenge was beginning, it was starting just 30 minutes into the paddling trip.  Nothing was more in Jose’s mind than to get around this great challenge.  The team rose to the challenge and decided to find a way, to get around the obstacle.  Jose, being blind, had never encountered this situation when he was sighted.  He was sure he could get through it.  Jose did not want to turn back and give up on the trip of his life; a trip to help raise sponsorship and support for a cure to Cystic Fibrosis.  It would have to be done somehow, Jose thought.

We have found a way, we think.  What is holding all the lily pads is a log that is about three feet in diameter, said one in the team.  Let’s see if we can get across.  We have to unload the canoes and drag everything across the log over to the water but we think we can get through.   The log is on the ground as well and is covering the entire width of the river. 

The nerves were frayed and it seemed improbable to get through but the group began to believe and look for a way to get through the killer challenge.  The first team started to unload their canoe into the bank of the river while team two, which Jose was part of, was waiting in the water in the canoe.  The first canoe was up in the bank of the river with all the gear unloaded.  Come on, let’s take all the gear over the log and let’s move quickly, said one in the team.  Let’s move our canoe into the bank and start unloading our gear, requested Jose.  IT was evident that it would be extremely difficult to get through it but at this point, there was no going back.  Walking among several thousand spiders of varying species was the most difficult part of the work.  Having spiders crawling over everything made for a very difficult time getting around the obstacle.

We are through, the canoe has been taken over the log, said a team member.  By this time, the second canoe was already in the bank.  The team began to unload the second canoe.  The first canoe was ready to be loaded with all its gear on the other side by the bank

Two hours later, the team was moving forward again down the river.  Two hours lost would have to be gained up ahead.  Before the day was over, one greater obstacle would be encountered.  Again, the team was ready to adapt and move forward.  By 6:30 p.m., the team did not reach the first goal, Zolfo Springs, which was 28 miles South of Fort Mead.  However, Jose was confident that they would make it.  Jose knew that getting up earlier the next morning would get the job done and they would make it.  Camp was setup that night and by 10 a.m. On day two, they were ready to move forward again.  Stopping was a luxury at this time since so much time was lost on day one.  By late Saturday afternoon, the team was well past Zolfo Springs and past 15 miles South of Zolfo.  When it was all said and done, the team had completed about 47 miles in two days; leaving 20 miles for day three.  Again, they were stopping at 6:45 p.m. to setup camp and get ready for day three which was Sunday.

On Sunday, the team began the paddling again around8:40 a.m.   Three hours to complete 20 miles was what it took to complete the trip which began a few miles north of the Gardner boat ramp.  At exactly 11:40 a.m., it was pronounced that 67 miles had been completed. 

While this team encountered the severe challenges of paddling and foraging through the jungle on day 1 of the trip, Jose was confident that it would be completed; and it was.  This trip marks an achievement in searching for a cure to Cystic fibrosis for Jose’s daughter.  He continues to fight hard to be noticed.  You might follow his progress by visiting his web site at and following him on Twitter @PaddleForCF.  We know that Jose will continue to be successful in his search to help his daughter and many children someday make CF stand for Cure Found.  He is helping to make this goal of finding a cure a much more realistic one.  Follow Jose as he continues to search for ways to be challenged and to challenge others to join him in this journey.