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Kayak For Safe Passage Kids: A Grandmother's Solo Paddling Expedition from Maine to Guatemala


Deb kayaked over 1,500 miles before requiring emergency spinal surgery early 2015. She continued her pre-arranged speaking tour by car, and then by sailboat to Guatemala in April 2015.

Now recovered, Deb is kayaking the remaining 1,000 miles following her updated schedule.

Photo credit: Mike Glad

Why is Dr. Deb Walters kayaking over 2,500 miles?     

  • To tell the story of the children living in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
  • To share how inspiring the mothers are who labor with grit and perseverance for a better life for their children
  • To talk about the success of the Safe Passage model school that fosters critical thinking, self sufficiency and confidence.
  • To raise funds for additional grades for the school

How is Deb engaging people in the Safe Passage story?

  • By using a daily blog and other social media
  • By giving presentations to schools and other groups in small towns
  • By speaking at larger events in cities along the route

What's the route?

Deb stayed close to shore from Yarmouth, Maine to New Jersey.  She went up the Delaware Bay and down the Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk, Va. where she began following the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida. To avoid the possibility of armed attacks on small craft in Mexico, Deb traveled from Florida to Belize aboard the sailing vessel Polaris with Bernie Horn, President of Polaris Capital Management.  Now recovered from her spinal injury, she is paddling from South Carolina to Key West.  For the final stretch Deb will kayak along a barrier reef and open coast to Rio Dulce in Guatemala.

Who is Deb?

Dr. Deb Walters is a grandmother from Maine, retired cognitive scientist and university leader, Rotarian, Safe Passage Board Member, and kayaking adventurer.  Her previous solo kayaking expeditions were in the Arctic, along the Atlantic coasts in the Northeast and the Maritimes, and through tropical waters in Mexico.

After completing over 1,500 miles of the expedition, Deb had emergency spinal surgery for a massively herniated disk. Despite this major injury, Deb is not giving up!  After a short break, she carried on with the speaking tour and the sailing component while undergoing physical rehabilitation. Once recovered, she will retrain and continue kayaking.

  • July 2014 through January 2015: Kayaked over 1,500 miles from Maine to Georgetown, SC.  
  • February 2015: Emergency neck surgery and recovery
  • March 2015: Speaking tour in Florida and rehabilitation
  • April 2015: Sailing leg from Florida to Guatemala for speaking tour in Guatemala
  • May to September 2015: Continue rehabilitation and retrain for extreme kayaking
  • Septmeber to February 2015: Kayak from Georgetown, SC to Key West, FL
  • February to April 2016: Kayak from Belize to Guatemala

How can you get involved?

Deb is undertaking a courageous mission, but it would not be possible without the help and support of our sponsors and a host of wonderful volunteers.  Deb will be carrying her food, water and gear for camping, but would welcome offers of a bed along the way.  To host Deb, or help out in other ways, click here.  You can also sponsor per mile, follow the blog, find events to attend, read articles and stories, and learn about our generous corporate sponsors.

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Big Thank You for our Corporate Sponsors!  

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Spine Institute Kayak for Safe Passage Kids Expedition Sponsor

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Assisting Rotary Clubs

Bar Harbor, Bangor Area, Unity, West Bay, South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Saco Bay, Biddeford Saco, Wells, York, Seacoast, Portsmouth, Hampton, Essex, Ipswich, Gloucester, Rockport, Marblehead, Swampscott, Lynn, Quincy, Weymouth, Scituate, Duxbury, Plymouth Sunrise, Bourne, Fall River, Jamestown, Wakefield, Sciantic RI, Westerly, Niantic, Clinton, Chester, Ridgefield, New Haven, Branford, Stratford, Fairfield, Westport, South Shore (Staten Island), Red Bank, Seaside, Atlantic City, Ocean City, Somer's Point, Cape May Kiwania Club, Port Norris, Georgetown/Millsboro, Chesterton, Annapolis, Annapolis Evening (Parole), Lexington Park, Prince Frederick, Leonardtown, Kilmarnock-Irvington-White Stone, Hampton, Oyster Point, Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, North Banks, Manteo, Bell Haven, Oriental, Beauforte-Ole Towne, Morehead City, Coastal Pender, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Georgetown, Savannah, Palm Coast, East Arlington, Fernando Beach, Arlington, Amelia Sunrise, North Jacksonville, Port Orange, Belize City, Los Americas, Hilton Head Island-Sunset Rotary Club, Hilton Head Island-Van Landingham, The Villages, The Villages Evening, Saint Augustine, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach

Assisting Yacht Clubs and Marinas

Agamenticus Yacht Club, Ipswich Bay Yacht Club, Eastern Yacht Club, Scituate Yacht Club, Green Harbor Yacht Club, Plymouth Yacht Club, Beverly Yacht Club, Niantic Bay Yacht Club, Harbor One Marina, Branford Yacht Club, Brewer-Stratford Marina, Pequot Yacht Club, Rowayton Yacht Club, Indian Harbor Yacht Club, Touring Kayak Club, New York Kayak Company, Sebago Canoe Club, Oceanport Landing, Hobby Lobby Marine, Farley State Marina, Doc's Restaurant, Avalon Anchorage Marina, Bayshore Center, Money Island Marina, Betterton Beach, Black Duck Inn, Eastport Yacht Club, Leland Marina, Isle of Palms Marina, Coastal Expeditions, City Marina (Charleston), Charleston Yacht Club, Palm Coast Marina, Loggerhead Marina (Daytona), Gerry's Marina, Goodrich's Restaurant