Tahoe Waterman Foundation launches new Adaptive Paddling Program with support from California Tahoe Conservancy, High Fives Foundation, and Tahoe Fund

Carnelian Bay, Calif. – The Tahoe Waterman Foundation is proud to announce a new program focused on helping community members access the healing power of water through paddle sports. 

The Waterman Foundation’s Adaptive Paddling Program provides access to professional paddle coaching resources and specialized paddle sports equipment for people facing life-changing mental or physical health challenges in North Lake Tahoe and surrounding communities. 

“Water has tremendous healing potential for the human mind, body, and spirit,” said Justin Broglio, President of the Tahoe Waterman Foundation. “Our goal is to provide a unique experience and a path to personal growth and recovery for those in our community without a way to get on the water; and who otherwise may not have considered paddling as something they could do or an active form of mental and physical therapy.” 

With support from the California Tahoe Conservancy, registration for the Adaptive Paddling Program is now open to youth or adults with cognitive, sensory, mental health, and physical disabilities. In its first year, the program will also provide youth paddling experiences for underserved and underprivileged youth in the North Lake Tahoe area.

Based in Carnelian Bay at Waterman’s Landing Cafe and Patton Beach, the Adaptive Paddling Program utilizes traditional and adaptive paddle sports equipment, including a specialized outrigger canoe (a Double-ama Draco) designed by Kai Wa’a Canoes and manufactured through Outrigger Zone. The Waterman Foundation secured the new adaptive outrigger canoe through a community project grant from the Tahoe Fund. 

“Spending time in the water has always been a place of calm for me,” said Forrest Shepherd, one of the first participants in the Adaptive Paddling Program and a member of the High Fives Foundation’s Military to Mountains program. 

“This is definitively a new chapter in life for me,” Shepherd added. “I am looking forward to continuing to challenge myself, and I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity to spend time on the water and continue my journey as a waterman.” 

Shepherd is a first responder who has worn many hats as a Firefighter, EMT, EMD, and Technical Rescue Instructor, specializing in water rescue. He is recovering from multiple fractures with damage to his spinal cord, while also battling Complex PTSD resulting from his service responding to emergencies and natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, and a mass shooting that devastated a small Texas community in 2017.

“Our mission is to improve the Lake Tahoe environment for all to enjoy,” said Amy Berry, Tahoe Fund CEO. “We are thrilled to support the Tahoe Waterman Foundation as they make it possible for athletes like Forrest to recreate outdoors and enjoy the beauty that Lake Tahoe has to offer.”

To learn more about the Adaptive Paddling Program and the Tahoe Waterman Foundation, visit www.laketahoewaterman.org

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Tahoe Waterman Foundation is dedicated to helping people of all ages and abilities experience the healing power of water through paddle sports. The Adaptive Paddling Program is supported by the California Tahoe Conservancy, the High Fives Foundation, and the Tahoe Fund.

Media Contact: 

Justin Broglio


President of the Tahoe Waterman Foundation and co-manager of the new Adaptive Paddling Program 


Photos: Forrest Shepherd paddles out of Waterman’s Landing in the new adaptive Kai Wa’a outrigger canoe (a Double-ama Draco) provided by the Tahoe Waterman Foundation’s new Adaptive Paddling Program. (06/20/24) Credit: Tahoe Waterman Foundation