Master Sgt. Dominique Vidrine, a civil affairs specialist with U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, had always wanted to take a kayaking trip down a river from start to finish, but never found the time. Vidrine finally fulfilled his dream April 24.
Starting near the Chatham and Lee counties lines, near Raleigh, N.C., Vidrine began his journey down the 202-mile Cape Fear River to raise awareness of the role all adults play in preventing child abuse and neglect, and raise funds for programs that prevent abuse before it occurs.
“What better month to do this in than April?” Vidrine said. “Not only is it National Child Abuse Prevention Month, but the weather is not too hot, not too cold. It’s a perfect time to do this,” he said.
“Everyone has a role in helping all children have the safe, stable, nurturing environments they need to thrive,” he continued. “I wanted to do something unique to support this important issue, and it was a natural fit to combine it with another passion of mine — kayaking. To be able to freely travel by one’s own power is a true joy. And, if I can do it for a good cause, that makes it even better.”
On the second day of his six-day journey, Vidrine, made a stop in Fayetteville, to visit with his first sergeant and speak with local media.
Even though he knew the trip would be peaceful, he admitted that he was surprised at how peaceful the river really was.
“I haven’t seen anyone around, it’s been quiet. In fact, the first time I saw anyone was just up the river when I passed a police boat,” he said. “Other than that, nothing. I do, however, think I saw an eagle.”
Due to the seclusive nature of his journey, Vidrine was fully prepared and self-sufficient. He didn’t plan on making any stops to resupply, and packed enough food to last the trip. He also packed a water filter, a hammock with a bug net attached, a map and a solar charger for his phone and navigation devices.
Vidrine said he always figured he’d try to help out a charity if he ever got the chance to fulfill his goal, and since his fiancée works at the Raleigh-based, nonprofit group, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, he said it was a no brainer. Vidrine’s goal was to raise $20,000. By late Wednesday afternoon, he was just $240 shy of that, and by the time he reached Southport, N.C., marking the end of his journey, he had surpassed his goal by $1,017 for a total of $21,017.
“I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has donated and supported me throughout this event,” Vidrine said.
Vidrine admitted when he got closer to the ocean, dealing with the changing currents and the crosswinds were his biggest struggles during his trip.
“I’m really glad I did this and will do it again … but probably on another river,” he said smiling.
“Preventing child abuse and neglect means helping all parents have the information, skills, and support they need to provide the nurturing environments children need to thrive,” said Rosie Allen Ryan, PCANC president and CEO. “Supporters like Master Sergeant Vidrine are critical to our work and we are grateful for his support. He is truly demonstrating how one person can inspire others to help our children and their Families.”