2003 World Record Set:
18 days, 4 hours, 51 minutes!

The Mississippi River Challenge for
Rett Syndrome & Leukodystrophy

- May 10, 2003 6 AM to May 28, 10:51 AM 2003-

A 2,348 Mile Marathon to Support a Marathon of Research!

Bob Bradford, forward position, Clark Eid, in the back, approaching L & D 24
Friday, May 23, 2003









































Friday, May 23, 2003

Posted for Dana, by Mary:

Clark & Bob arrived at the Ashport, Tennessee, boat ramp at 7:20am.  It's a really nice pull-out, but it caught the paddlers on the wrong side of the river with Bob sleeping.  Clark had almost paddled by when he finally spotted the orange flag that was being waved.  Clark tried to upriver ferry.  (That's where he turns the canoe around to paddle across the river upstream, slightly past where he wants to go, and then the current carries them back downriver as they paddle to the landing spot.)  Someone in the support crew hollered that it would sure be nice if someone else could help Clark.  To which Bob (still in his sleeping position) responded, "I don't want to change what works!"  Bob finally relented.  He sat up and with some maneuvering managed to turn around in his seat.  Together they finished the upriver ferry.

I don't recall reading yet about how they sleep.  In Clark's case, he is in the stern (the rear) of the canoe.  He has to slip his feet further down under the tarp which covers the middle portion of the canoe until he's in a laying-down position.  Bob, in the bow (the front) gets into the canoe as if he's going to sit backwards.  Then he slides his feet toward the middle of the canoe until he's laying down.  So he's actually laying down backwards when compared to the direction in which they're paddling.  Clark "simply" has to pull his feet back and sit up.  But Bob has to prove how nimble he is in order to get back into a paddling position.  There's more to their sleeping positions than that, but those are the basics.

Angie and Mike (Bob's daughter and son) arrived in the middle of the night.  Glad to have them back already!  The second Kruger Cruiser was pulled off the vehicle, and Janet and Mike are paddling with Bob & Clark for 16 or 20 miles.  The paddlers (all four of them) left at 7:50am.

Ashport is at river mile 796, which means they were 59 river miles from the Highway 40 bridge in Memphis.  That should put them in Memphis in mid- to late-afternoon!

Go Team Hope!!!



Clark is calling from mile river 768 at the DeVall Boat Ramp in Tennessee ... things are well... they cooked last night .... I see by the latest update/stats page that they are 453 miles ahead of the record.... and about 40 miles north of Memphis, Tennesse. Clark said all is well....this was about 11AM CST


From Dana Hanson, after Stan Hanson called her about 11 AM CST:

Bob and Clark stopped at river mile 768 for all of 15 minutes.  On the water again by 11:10am.  Their next planned stop -- which at this rate will be in only 4 or 5 hours -- is a really nice campground in West Memphis, Arkansas.  According to Stan, the Mississippi River "is really cooking with current like we haven't seen before - not a cloud in the sky, it's cool, and the wind is behind us!"  All makes for fantastic paddling weather.  As a result, they actually averaged 10mph on this last 28-mile stretch of river.  When they left here, Bob was ready to bed down, and Clark would be paddling by himself.

They are trying to get a coast guard escort thru New Orleans.  With the flooded conditions and the extra heavy dose of barges, they believe the extra precaution would be beneficial. 

And they received quite a surprise when they learned that the very same fireboat from Plaquemines Parish that escorted the teams south of Venice, Louisiana, during the 2001 race will escort Team Hope from Venice the last ten miles to Mile Zero!


Dana just called me to try to figure a way to get our family down to the finish line (it just won't work right now.... ) when she was called by Stan - Stan said Janet Bradford ran over something and punctured either her gas line or the gas tank and gas is spewing out of her van. No fire, but 911 has been called and I'm sure fire trucks are on the way.

No one is injured.....

At this point the other 2 vehicles and respective crew will go on to meet the paddlers down in Memphis Tennessee, and I will let folks know any further information as we get it.

As Dana said - thank heaven for 911! Like I said in an earlier post, a primary reason we could do this World Record Attempt to benefit those with Rett syndrome and Leukodystrophy is because we are the United States - and the Emergency Response crews are incredible!


A better update on the road crew emergency, from Dana Hanson....

They are on Quito Road, south of Drummond, TN, but north of Millington, TN.  Janet has driven over something with her van and punctured either the gas line or the gas tank.  As luck would have it, she has a full tank of gas.  Gas is spewing all over the place!  They called 911 and assume that a fire truck is on its way because of the gas spill.  Phone calls were made frantically back and forth between Stan, Desiree in New Orleans, and myself here in St. Louis.  Eventually it came to light that Angie has a AAA card and Janet's State Farm policy will cover the damage.

As of when Stan and I hung up, half the support crew is going to stay with Janet, and the other half is heading on to the West Memphis campground to meet the paddlers.  Pray all goes well and repairs are made quickly.

We'll let you know how this emergency ends, hopefully before the evening is over.


Hello to all,
I have not blogged for a while due to being on the road and in a training class. I received a call from the Team Hope Road crew (Andrew) this morning. Andrew's very scratchy cell phone voice said....."Clark wants to know when the river will crest at Memphis, TN?" I then went onto the web and got the river forecast and emailed it to Andrew along with the website address so he can check it everyday (www.riverwatch.noaa.gov). I tried his cell phone but got only voice mail. The bottom line is that the biggest crest already passed Memphis. They are basically riding the wave so to speak. Does anyone have an update on injuries or lack thereof?

Kenton Spading


Janet Bradford is calling now ....told me she has gotten car towed to a garage, and they are waiting for the EPA to come clean up the gas.... she said she had paddled with Bob and Clark today some with her son Mike... prior to the gas spewing incident... they are all very busy on the road crew.... she said she is doing ok now.... She said her son is staying with her and the rest of the crew has gone onward.... She was asking about Amanda and Noah and the phone went dead - a constant issue with the phone connections and the road crew.... Sounds like everyone is ok, and her car will be fixed soon.... more later....


Much has happened in the last few hours. Suffice it to say that all are well, and that Bob & Clark are more than 460 miles ahead of World Record pace. I'll add a new Blog entry with all the details of our busy day later when I get the chance.

The paddlers just arrived at Mud Island in Memphis, TN.



The crew discovered that Tom Sawyer Campground in West Memphis, Arkansas, was flooded.  They had to stay upriver quite a ways in Memphis, TN.  They found a really nice takeout at Mud Island City Park.  They are located close to where I-55 crosses the river.  The paddlers arrived at 3pm and will be leaving soon.  Their next planned meeting spot is Tunica, Mississippi.

As for the emergency earlier today, county sheriffs, fire truck, and the "environmental guys" (we don't think EPA, but similar) showed up to take care of the gas spill.  Stan believes that the Bradfords had to pay around $2,000 to have the spill cleaned up, but think that the insurance will cover it.  (Everybody -- don't let your gas tank or lines rupture! It's expensive....)  Janet's van was towed and is in the shop.  The gas tank was ruptured and has been removed.  Right now they are waiting for a new tank to be delivered this afternoon.  They should be on the road by 5pm.

They are now 465 miles ahead of world record pace.

And check this out -- they are within 3 hours of the mad-man schedule!!!


Clark just called from the water - he is talking on the phone while Bob is paddling - again! What a good sport Bob is.... sounds like they are moving fast and doing well..... Clark said, "Oh, there is a river boat full of people here looking at me and I'm talking on the phone, I better go...." Sounds like they are around Memphis now... was a little hard to tell in that quick phone call.


I told Clark that Connie Coughlin (from Memphis Tennessee) had tried to come out to see Team Hope, but just didn't have enough notice from the team. Connie's daughter, Dani, had Rett syndrome. Connie has been a staunch supporter and advocate for many Rett families for many tireless years. Connie is also "the" person who introduced me to "getting the word out about Rett" through website work and is one of the moderators of a special email listserve for Rett families - clubrett (yahoogroups.com). Special thanks to Connie for thinking of us, as she and Dani have remained in our heart for years.


National Weather Service for Tunica, Mississippi:
Tonight. Becoming partly cloudy. Lows in the upper 50s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
Saturday. Partly cloudy. Highs in the upper 70s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon.


The crew arrived at Ashton, TN sometime early this morning, and set about getting some rest. Around 04h00, Angie returned with brother Mike, sister-in-law Denise, and their son Justin. At 04h30, Andrew was awakened by Angie's car alarm, which mysteriously went off. Since the remote control to turn off the alarm was in her pocket, it took her a few seconds to turn off the alarm. [At least this is the version of the story she is telling everyone; I have to wonder if it wasn't intentional...]

Bob & Clark arrived around 07h20, and had a breakfast of cold cereal mixed with bacon and fruit. They left around 07h56, along with Janet and Mike in the spare Kruger Cruiser.

Both canoes flew downstream to Ed Duvall Boat Landing, where the road crew had arrived only minutes before. Lunch was served, and Bob & Clark left at 11h10.

The road crew departed for Memphis, TN, intending to meet the paddlers at a campground in West Memphis (Arkansas). Coming around a corner, the lead vehicle (Angie at the wheel, AMG navigating) spotted a hunk of metal in the road, and easily cleared it in the SUV. Following immediately behind, Janet was not so lucky. Making a conscious decision not to swerve off the road to avoid it, she positioned it between the tires and hoped for the best. A loud noise indicated that the vehicle had come in contact with the debris, and she immediately stopped to inspect the damage. A strong smell of gasoline persuaded her to immediately get everyone out of the car. All of the fuel in the recently-filled tank began to leak onto the road, and from there into the ditch.

Angie called 911 on her cell phone, and when asked where she was, read the lattitude and longitude coordinates displayed on Andrew's computer screen, which showed their current location. Bill directed traffic while waiting for the authorities to arrive.

The fire department showed up five to ten minutes later, uncoiled a hose from their truck, and checked out the situation. Team Hope's road crew busied themselves taking pictures of the scene. With the fire department convinced that there was no imminent danger of a fire, we were allowed to remove things the paddlers would need from the car. I immediately rescued the orange flags which we use to get their attention at meeting locations.

While most of the road crew continued on toward Memphis, Janet and son Mike remained at the scene of the Great Mississippi Gas Leak. Mike went with the car to a dealer to get a new fuel tank, while Janet had to meet with a crew (HEPACO) who would clean up the gas spill. Andrew called the Tom Sawyer Campground, and discovered that they were closed on account of high water. After some quick consulting with other crew members, the decision was made to meet the paddlers on Mud Island in Memphis. We proceeded onto the island, and found a great landing spot on the north end of the island.

At about the same time, Janet called the road crew on Mud Island and told them that HEPACO said that she would have to pay for the cleanup of the gasoline.

With the help of some tug captains, we were able to get the message to Bob & Clark that the meeting place had been changed from West Memphis to Mud Island, where the canoe arrived at about 14h50. Bob & Clark were in great spirits, and ate a lunch consisting of cold cut sandwiches and cucumber slices. Excited by the fact that they were well over 400 miles ahead of World Record pace, they loaded up their boat with supplies, and departed for Tunica, Mississippi at 15h34.

Angie and Stan's vehicles left for Tunica shortly thereafter, and en route received a call from Janet, who announced that all the repairs on her car were done, and that they also were on their way to Tunica.

All three road crew vehicles are now at the Mhoon Boat Ramp west of Tunica, MS. Bob & Clark have just eaten a late supper of barbeque chicken, and are now about to depart. At present, they are 493 miles of the World Record.