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

L to R: Bradford & Eid, near Lock & Dam 24

The Team

****Team members are listed upon information and request. There may be additional members on the team who are not listed on this site****

Paddlers - Team Hope

Paddler: Bob Bradford

Bob Bradford, center of picture, at Ketter's Canoes in Minneapolis, MN, 05/14/2003

Bob will be one of two paddlers to paddle the entire Mississippi River during this Challenge!

Bob says:

Bob has canoe raced competitively for the past 21 years.

Bob's list of winning accomplishments includes completing 14 AuSable River canoe Marathons (120 mile course), 12 General Clinton canoe races (70 mile course) and 5 La Classique International Canoe races in Quebec.

Bob and Al Widding Sr. currently hold the senior's record time of 15 hours and 21 minutes for the 120 mile AuSable River Canoe Marathon., (time 15 hours 21 minutes). In 2002, Bob placed first over all in the Yukon quest canoe and kayak race of 460 miles with Bob Vincent of Canada. In the Spring of 2001, Bob placed first with Verlen Kruger in the Great Mississippi Race for Rett Syndrome in 2001 completing the 2348 miles in 24 days 17 hours 51 minutes.

Bob reports the most exciting of all this 2002 racing season was when he raced with his oldest grand son David Phelps including this year's AuSable River canoe marathon. Bob's family has been affected by Adrenoleukodystrophy, a rapidly degenerative form of Leukodystrophy.


Paddler: Clark Eid

Clark Eid at Ketter's Canoes in Minneapolis, MN, 05/14/2003

Clark will be one of two paddlers to paddle the entire Mississippi River during this Challenge!

Clark says:

Clark and his wife, Mary Potter, have two children, Amanda (10) and Noah (6). Amanda has Rett syndrome

Clark was raised in the small Northwestern Minnesota town of Fertile and instructed canoeing at the Boy Scout's Camp Wilderness near Park Rapids, MN. Soon after earning his BS in Chemistry from the U. of MN, he and his life long friend Tony Swenson canoed to York Factory on Hudson's Bay via the Red River of the North and the "Middle Track".

During graduate school at the U.C. Santa Cruz, Clark took up ocean kayaking. He did many self guided kayak tours along the California coast, in Baja Mexico, the Kingdom of Tonga, Fiji, and New Zealand. Clark currently works as a research scientist at Wyeth Research in Pearl River, NY.

In 2001, Clark and his wife, Mary Potter, organized The Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome, 2001. Clark built the flagship Double Helix that was a unique 25' woodstrip kayak with wooden rose vines wrapping around its hull. He raced it with Kurt Zimmermann, setting a new world kayak record for running the Mississippi River (26 days, 6 hours, and 41 minutes). The Double Helix will be displayed at the New Orleans Convention Center.

Road Crew - Team Hope

The road crew will be directly supporting the team from May 10 to the finish line, from nearby vehicles and occasional on the water support (paddling out to the team). If you would like to contact the road crew during the event, Mary Potter and Dana Hanson can take your contact information and relay it to the team during the event. Road crew members will try to call press/media when they can, and will return calls as possible, but this will depend on what is happening when you call :-).

Road Crew Captain: Stan Hanson

Stan Hanson


Stan Hanson is the Road Crew Captain for the duration of the Challenge!

Stan says:

Age 58, Stan married his very supportive and wonderful wife Dana.He is the proud dad to daughter Leisa in Missouri, and son Paul in Washington. They are both married to great spouses (Jim And Kim). Stan and Dana live near St Louis where Dana works as a paralegal. Stan is retired from the USAF (air traffic controller) and civil service.

Stan writes: My love for paddling began in the summer of 1963 when he was a teenager working for the Park Service in Teton National Park in Wyoming. My tent buddy and I split the $100.00 cost of a used 17 _ foot two-person Folbot kayak. It was made of dark green nagahyde with a rigid wooden frame. We christened it "The River Rat". Its maiden voyage was on the Snake River from below Jackson Lake dam to the entrance of the park at Moose, WY.

It was just a day trip down a wonderfully clear, fast flowing river flanked on the west by the most ruggedly beautiful mountain range named "Les Grand Tetons" by the mountain man John Colter. We fly fished for trout, spied on moose grazing in backwaters and startled great herds of magnificent elk. We watched graceful eagles soar on the winds and hawks gliding silently in search of an easy meal. That was when the embers of adventure began to glow brightly within me.

Since then I have paddled and explored lakes and the river in Kansas (that’s right there really is one), the Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Washington, Wyoming, Illinois, Minnesota, Alaska and Canada. My years of association with the Air Force enabled me to travel to many of these places. I lived for a year on the banks of the Yukon at Galena, Alaska.

My most memorable paddling experience actually took place last May when Team Kruger won the Great Mississippi River Race and I didn’t paddle a stroke. It was a special time for those of us that helped Bob Bradford and Verlen win this historic event. It was made even more special to help raise funds for and awareness of Rett Syndrome.

I can honestly say my trip down the Yukon in the Spring of 2002 is the biggest adventure I had ever envisioned. Of course it was more special to be able to share the experience with Jenny and Verlen Kruger.

When my wife retires we will pack up the trailer, load our Sea Winds on top of the Suburban, throw our dogs in the back and head north up the Alaska highway for Fairbanks, Alaska (maybe on to Prudo Bay) and paddle any interesting water we see on the way and back. Six months of wilderness adventure with my sweetheart…..it just doesn’t get any better than that.


Road Crew Member: Janet Bradford (wife of paddler Bob Bradford)

Janet Bradford (middle) with the Canadian Mounted Police.

Janet Bradford will serve as one of several road crew members for the duration of this World Record Challenge!

Janet says....

In Michigan and among all canoe racers a road crew person is referred to as a bank runner. Janet has been Bob's bank runner for over 20 years. She has taken care of him in the General Clinton Canoe Ragada in New York, the La Classique International in Quebec, Canada, and the AuSable River Canoe Marathon in Michigan, plus many others. In 2002 she crewed for Bob in the Yukon Quest Canoe Race.

The Michigan Canoe Racing Association has presented her a Bank Runners Award!

Janet loves walking and she walks an average of 30 miles per week. She has completed 4 Detroit marathons and one Chicago marathon. Janet also likes to bike, canoe camp and do snow shoe races. Janet will be going the entire distance with the road crew, although the Canadian Mounted Police will not be able to make it this time!


Road Crew Member: Andrew Gribble

Andrew M. Gribble


Andrew M. Gribble will serve as one of several road crew members for the duration of this World Record Challenge!

Andrew says:

Andrew M. Gribble grew up in Minneapolis, MN, and received his graduate degree in Communication Studies from Northern Illinois University.

As a college professor and freelance multimedia developer, Andrew teaches about and produces CDROMs, online games and interactive learning modules. During the summer he can be found paddling his 16' kayak on the lakes and rivers of the upper Midwest.



Road Crew Member: William Pullen  

Bill Pullen

William Pullen will serve as one of several road/race crew members for the duration of this World Record Challenge!

William says:

William Pullen   Age 53, has been married for over 20 years to his lovely wife Jean.  Bill and Jean live in Fenton Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. 

Bill is a retired Police Officer from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Jean is a Project Engineer for Union Pacific Railroad.  Although Bill and Jean have no children, they have raised a Champion Bouvier des Flandres named Argus who is their best buddy. Bill and Jean are travelers and adventurers and love doing things together. 

"We are both certified scuba divers, me for over 25 years, Jean for about 20.  We own three bicycles, two kayaks, two canoes, two Jeeps and two collectible cars. It doesn't take much encouragement to start us off on an adventure. We have climbed on the Great Wall of China, watched the sun set behind Mt. Fuji in Japan, bathed in a mountain waterfall in Venezuela, been through the Panama Canal and was scared stiff driving up Mount Washington in NH." 

Bill bicycled from St. Louis, MO to Washington D.C. when he was 30 and helped crew a 72' sailboat down the Mississippi from St. Louis to Fort Meyer Beach FL in 1992.

Bill said he is always open for a new adventure.   "I was very pleased to be asked to participate in such an undertaking and am truly flattered to be part of this team.  To attempt something of this nature, and in doing so increase awareness and support for the individuals and families of Rett Syndrome and Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), is truly an honor."

Road Crew Member: Denise and Mike Bradford


Denise and Mike Bradford will be joining the road crew during the World Record Challenge around May 24 to the end of the Challenge.

Please see Justin Bradford's Website and sign his guestbook - he loves to hear from everyone (Justin is Bob Bradford's grandson)!


Road Crew Members: Angie Phelps, Sons David and Jacob, and Daughter Jessie

Angie Phelps will be joining the road crew during the World Record Challenge at the start of the race on May 10 and will stay with the road crew for 1 to 2 weeks! Her 2 sons David and Jacob, and daughter Jessie will be joining with her!

Road Crew Member: Jon Young


Jon Young will be joining the road crew during the World Record Challenge near the St. Louis area around May 20 to the end of the Challenge.

Road Crew Help: Tony Swenson


Tony Swenson, from Blaine, MN grew up in Fertile, MN. Tony joined the road crew for the first few days of the race when he was really needed!

Thanks Tony!

Road Crew Help: Tammy & Bob Hanson

Tammy and Bob Hanson, and their children, joined in and helped the road crew during the first 4 or 5 days of the race. Tammy helped organize the MN Dinner in Bemidji, was at the start, organized a couple of coffees/meals for Team Hope during the frst few days and verryyy importantly helped Stan Hanson get back together with his truck and camper!

Thanks Tammy, and special thanks to Rachel, her daughter who has Rett syndrome. Please see their website at www.rachelhanson.homestead.com


Team Hope Supporters
(Supporting the team from home)

U.S. Army Corp or Engineers

Kenton Spading

Kenton says....

Kenton Spading, P.E. - Kenton currently works as a hydrologic engineer for the United States Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul, MN.   Kenton was on the road crew support team for Team Helix during the Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome, May 2001.  He will be coordinating the team's movements through the Corps' locks and dams during the 2003 event.

Kenton is a native of Minnesota.  He met Clark Eid (paddler) while studying for his Civil Engineering degree at the University of Minnesota (where they were roommates). 

Kenton is a volunteer researcher for The International Group For Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR). TIGHAR expeditions have taken him to New Foundland in search of the French aircraft "The White Bird" and to Fiji, Nikumaroro, Funafuti, Palmyra and Kanton Islands in the South Pacific in search of Amelia Earhart's airplane.   He recently co-authored a book on Amelia Earhart titled "Amelia Earhart's Shoes: Is the Mystery Solved?".



Webmaster - Mary Potter

The Eid family at the headwaters of the Mississippi River during a summer vacation, July, 1998. Left to right, Clark Eid, Noah Eid (then 3), Amanda Eid (then 7) sitting in the chair, Mary Potter, standing behind Amanda.

Mary Potter - Mary serves as the main webmaster for this website and serves as one of many "off river" coordinators during the race.

Mary says....

Mary has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota, Institute of Technology. She helped her husband, Clark Eid, coordinate the Great Mississippi River Race for Rett Syndrome, May 2001, and serves as webmaster for that website as well.

Mary is active in the special needs community. She is a founding board member of the CT Parent Resource Library, a board member of FORConn, and runs a grass roots support group for special needs family in her home town of Cheshire, CT. Mary is also happy to talk with anyone about Rett syndrome with anyone and is happy to talk with "new" parents just starting out in the special needs world.

Mary and her husband, Clark Eid, have two children, Amanda (10) and Noah (6). Amanda has Rett syndrome.

Mary also reminds Kenton Spading (above) that he knew her in college as well as one of Clark's many girlfriends.






Website - Written Updates - Dana Hanson

Dana Hanson

Dana Hanson - Dana will be writing daily updates from Captain Stan Hanson and the team and serves as one of many "off river" coordinators during the race.

Dana says......

Dana, at the Big 5-Oh, hails to be the other (but not necessarily better) half of Stan Hanson, Road Crew Captain for this event (see above).  His bio above says it all.  Almost....  
He neglected to say (sin of all sins) that we have three wonderful granddaughters -- Hayden (Jan 1997) and twins Cameron & Devon (Nov 1999) -- who only add to the joy in our lives.  They live west of St. Louis, a little too far to see them weekly, but close enough to see them on truly important days -- like when Disney on Ice or the Circus comes to town or when the sun rises!

After one bad experience at canoeing in my pre-marriage days, I vowed never to paddle again.  But after a few years of marriage, Stan exposed me to the fun that can be had while paddling (such as fishing from a canoe, and the joy of releasing my hook from a tree, then a net, and finally my backpack).  And of course, there is always the necessity of getting from one campsite to another.  As a result, being on the water finally appealed to me.  Admittedly, I prefer to stay in one location for a period of time & take day trips.  Guess that's why I'm not a Mississippi Challenge paddler and why I didn't join them on the Yukon River last summer.  Our dachshunds, at 35 pounds and with their low center of gravity, make for excellent canoe dogs.  But they love to chase the squirrels and chipmunks once we go ashore.  My love for canoeing only got greater when we obtained our SeaWinds.  Thank you, Verlen, for introducing us to these magnificent vessels.  The freedom to paddle efficiently on your own is exhilarating!
The other passion in our lives is golf.  I keep telling Stan that he should go on tour (Senior Tour, of course), but I just enjoy being with him on the course.  Good thing he's patient with me, because my goal is to break 90.  I've come close, but haven't quite reached that magical number yet.
Our Expedition makes our lives complete.  With our SeaWinds on top, our golf clubs in the back, and our dogs trying to climb into the front seat with us, we're ready to go anywhere!  Things could be better only if we could carry our clubs in our SeaWinds (the dogs already fit)!  We'll have to ask Verlen to come up with a design variation to allow it.
I feel privileged to be part of this endeavor, even though I won't be with the road crew like I was two years ago.  I'll just have to Stan convey for me -- "We Love You Bob & Clark!"   Now won't that sound grand!

Dana will update us with daily "news" via email to everyone interested in daily written updates during the event. These updates will be added to our website.

Website - Written Updates

Website Assistance During the Event

Steve Dimse, of findu.com, and Andrew Gribble spearheaded an effort prior to the race that resulted in live, real time mapping and positioning information of the paddlers location to show online during the event itself. Mapblast provided the maps, Clark Eid (ham operator and paddler) purchased the APRS system needed to interface with findu.com, and Stan Hanson (Road crew captain) provided the GPS unit.

Website assistance during the event is also provided by the folks at blogger.com, for their nifty tool that will allow several team members to send live reports directly to the webpage during the event itself. Special thanks to all the folks who joined our blogger.

Several folks will be sending pictures of the event as it unfolds, we'll try to get some shots online during the event from Race Pictures. Many thanks in advance to the folks who will be sending us pictures.....

Mary Potter and Clark Eid provide the website and website updates as a public service to spread awareness of this race, Rett Syndrome, and genetic disorders that are considered Leukodystrophies.