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


Latest news: Deb & expedition nominated for Canoe & Kayak Magazine 2015 Paddle with Purpose Award! Results to be announced August, 2015!

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.

Once recovered, Deb will kayak 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.  Once Deb recovers from her spinal injury, she will paddle 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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