All-Stars Among Us: Joe Mornini

Our final profile of the Nationals’ All-Stars Among Us looks at Joe Mornini. Remember, voting ends on Sunday, June 20th. Your votes will help to decide which one of these three individuals will represent the Nationals at the 2010 All-Star Game.

Joe Mornini co-founded the nonprofit TeamRiverRunner to train and mentor active service members and wounded veterans in whitewater boating and other paddling sports. An active boater, Mornini read many articles about wounded soldiers back in 2004 and wanted to see if he could fit a boat to overcome certain disabilities. So he worked with Kevin Carr at Creative Abilities to develop and push adaptive kayaking way beyond anything that had ever been done before.

“We’ve yet to find a disability we can’t put in a boat,” Mornini said.

That includes veterans who have lost arms and/or legs, those who are paralyzed, those who have lost their vision or hearing and even those with brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder.

“Our focus is on a healing lifestyle -- to get veterans active in a sport or activity again, regardless of their disability. It just makes them happy again to be out doing something and having fun.”

In the past six years, they’ve served over 1500 veterans and expanded to 25 locations across the country. The program varies from peaceful kayaking to white-water boating to races and competitions. Veterans also help run the programs, serve as instructors and conduct outreach to other wounded soldiers.

“It’s very rewarding to get people out on the water enjoying life again,” Mornini continued.

“I love the Washington Nationals. I’m a big fan of the Washington Nationals and I’m very humbled to be recognized by the Nationals and People magazine. But the real program and the real work is done by hundreds of volunteers and communities across the country just waiting to do something to give back to the troops.”

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