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B$Z: Dagger and First Descents Strengthen Partnership, Continue to Transform Lives Through Kayaking

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Katie Ferraro

Dagger is celebrating and strengthening its 14-year partnership with First Descents in 2015. First Descents is a non-profit founded by Team Dagger athlete Brad Ludden that offers free kayaking and adventure camps to young adults who are fighting cancer or are cancer survivors.

“We are incredibly proud to strengthen our partnership with First Descents and to deepen our support of the programs that Brad has developed for cancer fighters and survivors,” said Evan Lyendecker, marketing manager for Confluence Outdoor. “Dagger has always been comprised of paddlers who are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in a kayak, and partnering with First Descents aligns with Dagger’s fundamental goal of supporting adventurous, brave lifestyles. It has been an honor for Dagger to sponsor First Descents for the past 14 years, and we are excited to be able to expand our involvement in 2015.”

Dagger has been a key partner of First Descents since 2001 when Ludden founded the organization. As a young, professional kayaker, Ludden accomplished historic first descents down wild, uncharted rivers around the world. After a close family member was diagnosed with cancer he taught her to kayak and noticed an immediate change in her attitude and well-being. He realized that he could use kayaking to help people with cancer reclaim their lives and their strength in the outdoors, and to experience the same exhilarating feeling that he had after a first descent.

Along with Ludden, Dagger athlete Adriene Levknecht is also a key member of the lead staff at First Descents. In 2015 Dagger will provide three kayaks for First Descents’ annual fundraising events, and Dagger raffled off kayaks at the GoPro Games, North Fork Championships and Black Canyon Race to benefit First Descents. Additionally, Dagger and First Descents created a scholarship program together to support program participants who want to continue to pursue paddling, and come fall Dagger will be outfitting the winner with a new kayak and starter gear.

“Dagger has supported our mission from the very beginning and our meaningful partnership is a huge reason why we have been so successful at achieving our goal of helping young people with cancer reclaim their lives,” said Ludden. “We are really excited to expand Dagger’s role with First Descents this year, incorporate more Team Dagger athletes into our camps and continue to transform lives largely through the experience of whitewater kayaking.”

Watch the first episode of the Out Living It video series about the partnership between First Descents and Dagger here.  

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