How to start where you are


When Shannon passed away on the Potomac River, I was determined to do something to honor her legacy as a force for positivity in the paddling world.

I had no idea how to start a memorial fund, but I did know how to take a mason jar from my kitchen, put a label on it that said: “Shannon Christy Memorial Fund,” and put it out at my booth at Gauley Fest.

Her passing had shocked the paddling world and people who came by my booth wanted to connect and remember. I raised maybe $100 over the weekend. It was small, and it was a start.

I placed that jar on my desk and looked at it every day for probably close to a year. How could I add to it? What causes could I support in Shannon’s honor? Who could help me?

The power of sharing

It wasn’t until I started sharing my ideas with more people that opportunity opened up. My friend Laura Farrell shared with me that she wanted to start a women’s event on the Green to raise money, and we decided to join forces.

The next summer, between my Ladies Southeast Paddling Series, and Laura’s first Green River Takeover, we managed raise enough money to establish the Shannon Christy Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

Over the next few summers we continued to raise money and started to give out donations to non-profits who empower women and girls.

From jar with $100 to over $35,000

Almost a decade later, we’re proud that we’ve donated over $35,000 to non-profits including Our Voice, Homeward Bound, Outdoor Afro, the ACA, AW, GALSNC, Ascend Leadership, Cambria Outdoors, FBRA Girls School, The Live Like Maria Fund, and the Sarah Ruehlen Memorial Fund.

The Southeast Ladies Paddling Series has transformed into Women’s Paddlefest that I co-host with the Nantahala Outdoor Center each June that has over 100 women participate.

The event embodies the positivity and support that Shannon was beloved for, and I’m super proud of what the event has become.

What’s your jar?

So today, I ask you – what’s your jar? What small action can you take right now toward the dream that is pulling at your heartstrings?

It doesn’t matter how insignificant it may seem, what’s important is that you take a step forward, and start sharing your vision. You never know unless you give it a go.

There’s no better place to start than right where you are.


If kayaking and community is calling your name, and you want to take a step in that direction, I invite you to register for Find Your Flow Week coming up in July. It’s an immersive week of of Class II-III paddle instruction with video review, catered meals, daily yoga and amazing community. CLICK HERE to learn more and register.