In 2015, Dale Sanders aka the Grey Beard Adventurer successfully became the oldest man to ever solo paddle the Mississippi River from it’s source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to it’s confluence with the Gulf of Mexico, south of Venice, Louisiana, in one continuous trip. He paddled the same boat - a human-powered canoe, from start to finish.
On his 80th year, in June 2015, Dale began this epic journey. After a birthday celebration in his home town, he traveled to Lake Itasca and launched his craft, a specially designed Wenonah Canoe for long distance down river paddling. Averaging 30 miles per day, he planned the trip to the Gulf of Mexico would to take 80 paddling days, arriving in September 2015.
Dale raised over $23,000 dollars for awareness funds to help fight Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes, a life long disease, for which there is no cure. His 10 year-old grandniece, Anna, suffers from this disease and needs an artificial pancreas in order to live a relatively normal life. Her parents cannot afford the high cost and Dale took it upon his own initiative to raise a portion of the funds needed for this procedure.
Dale began with his friends Richard Sojourner and Tom Graves. However, the journey did not end the same way. Weather conditions, high waters, and medical issues were just some of the challenges the group faced. Of course, there was no shortage of good times, great camp sites, and the ever-appreciated "river-angels".
Dale, himself, has been a "river-angel" for many years. He houses and transports paddlers who make their way down the Mississippi River. At his home in Memphis, he transformed his basement to what he calls "The Paddlers' Den". It's a welcome place to paddlers needing a break and a resupply.
Dale spent his whole life in and around rivers and oceans. He knew he wanted to do something big and with his old age only being a number to him, his fondness of the Mississippi River convinced him to take on the challenge he'd help so many others complete.
The Mississippi River is still very wild in many spots and a thru-paddle of the waterway is getting more popular as people search for more adventure in our beautiful country. Adventureitus Productions chose to follow and document Dale's story, in large part, for those reasons. It's right up our alley. Coupled with the fact that he was doing it for a great cause and setting a record only made the documentation of Dale Sanders: Source to Sea that much more satisfying.