Meet the Paddle for Heroes Family
At Paddle for Heroes, we believe that every veteran deserves a chance to experience the healing power of nature and adventure sports. Our program offers a unique opportunity for veterans to bond with fellow service members and participate in challenging activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and more. By building supportive, inclusive communities through outdoor experiences, we hope to make a lasting impact on the lives of those who have served our country.
Founder & President
Steve retired from the U.S. Coast Guard with over 20 years of service. He has paddled everywhere the service has taken him to
include Panama, Honduras, Cuba, Columbia, and Alaska. He is dedicated to helping others and
The idea to create Paddle for Heroes came to Steve while stationed in Virginia, where he saw his first ADA Accessible kayak launch.
“I observed a disabled veteran utilizing the launch to go kayak fishing. I thought it was absolutely amazing as I witnessed him transition from his wheelchair
to his kayak without any assistance”.
Steve later uncovered 2 veteran kayak organizations;
Heroes on the Water and Team River Runner.
“I always wanted to kayak from my home town of Mount Vernon, Ohio to the Ohio River”. Steve gathered with some friends from Ohio spending countless hours planning the trip. They wanted to raise money during the trip for Team River Runner and Heroes On the Water. They launched on their first trip to Marietta on April 29th, 2017. The group ended up raising $6,000 between both organizations.
Steve is a level 2 ACA kayak instructor. His hobbies include Canoeing with his dog Feller, river kayaking, stand up paddle
boarding, biking, hiking, and camping.
Joey Butts fell in love with canoeing around the age of 13 when his church youth group started doing annual canoe trips.
Throughout his adult life which included 17 years in the Army, he dreamed of doing longer trips and camping out of his canoe.
In 2010 after 2 deployments he started to wind down his Army Career and would realize that dream by encouraging his family to start doing trips with him.
In 2017 Joey discovered Paddle For Heroes, while participating in the Knox Co. Recycling and Litter Preventions, Kokosing River Clean Up.
After learning the groups' mission,
"Our mission is to HELP veterans, first responders, and their families heal through paddling. " , he was hooked and went out with the group as much as possible, including the groups flagship event,
The Mt. Vernon to Marietta 160 mile Veterans Awareness Kayak trip 4 times.
Knowing that all veterans and first responders have varying degrees of "demons" to deal with Joey felt that this was a mission he could get on board with.
Joey has served several years as the PFH Community Outreach Officer and now serves as Vice President for the 501c3.
Sonya is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves spending time in nature. Sonya truly appreciates Paddle for Heroes for their
dedication to preserving our rivers.
After working for years in a grocery store, Sonya went back to school to obtain a degree and career in accounting/finance.
While she is not a veteran, Sonya comes from a family containing several veterans and states,
"I cannot stress enough how much we owe to our veterans, and I enjoy being part of a group that supports them and their health needs".
MSgt Adam Porter
Military Liaison Officer
MSgt Adam Porter is the First Sergeant for the Logistics Readiness Squadron at the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, OH. He is also an Air Cargo Specialist within the 179th LRS.
Adam was born in Mansfield, OH and has continued to live in the area. He graduated from Clear Fork High School in 1996 and went on to study at the University of Akron. Adam also attended the Ohio State Universities Agricultural Institute, where he graduated in 2010. Adam also received an Associates of Applied Science in Environmental Resource Management and Business Management.
Adam's love for the outdoors is still a focus today, as he spends his spare time with his wife and 2 children in nature. Growing up 0n a farm has encouraged him to pass down this passion for nature to his children. He finds the outdoors calming and an escape from the everyday grind. Adam feels extremely blessed by his military experience and hopes to pay it back and forward to any and all veterans that he can.
Working with so many amazing veterans gives him the desire to serve them as they have served America.