Royce Cowan, diagnosed in 2010 at age 27.
Died September 17, 2018.

I began kayaking around the age of 11 or 12. The sport gave so much to me. Time in nature. Time with family. Time with friends. It kept me in shape. Gave me confidence. Kayaking also gave me my partner in life. I met my wife on the water and we grew closer together through the sport. Kayaking was a huge part of my life and I thought I’d be doing it until I was old and in the way.

On a sunny afternoon in the summer of 2010, I was paddling down an easy class III river in eastern Tennessee with my new wife. We were surfing a set of waves when I flipped over. I attempted a roll. Nope. Couldn’t get back up. I tried again. No luck. I was not going to swim on this dinky little rapid. I gave it all I had. I was back up, but something was wrong.

I had recently been having trouble walking. Stairs were difficult and unusual falls were becoming common. But, not being able to roll my kayak? It was time to get checked out.

It was ALS. What? Seriously? Newlywed, in great shape, 27 years old? Yup. Now here we are. I haven’t kayaked in years. These days it takes all I’ve got to just write this. But I do it to fight back. For myself, my wife, our two-year-old daughter, and everyone else out there affected by ALS.

Read Royce’s blog.