Team River Runner screens “Healing the Warrior’s Heart”

Leon Ratt (seen here on the film screen with the flag) describes his experiences with sweat lodges (photo by Chloe Johnson)

Some may question how “Healing the Warriors Heart” may apply to veterans in West Virginia. The film is a 2014 documentary that examines the emotional trauma of war through the lens of Native American tradition and ceremony.

At first glance, the film does not apply to the veterans in West Virginia. The 2010 census listed 3,787 Native Americans living in West Virginia. However, Shepherd University Registrar Tracy Seffers and Team River Runner would disagree.

“I saw this film on PBS and knew we had to screen it,” Seffers said, “Around this time of year, Hollywood likes to show a lot of movies on war. But this documentary takes the time to look at what coming home is like. Which is what Team River Runner is all about.”

Seffers bought the rights to the film to present with Team River Runner. The team is an on campus organization that gives kayak lessons to veterans returning home from war or attending university.

Seffers has worked with Shepherd University’s Team River Runner since its inception in 2013. The group gives kayak lessons to Veterans returning home from overseas. They offer the Storm Kersey Memorial Scholarship to a graduating member of Team River Runner.

David Kersey was a member of Team River Runner who took his life while paddling along the Potomac River. Kersey, an Army Reserve sergeant who served two combat tours, lived in Brunswick, Maryland, and worked for the U.S. Department of Health.

“We began the scholarship after two of our veterans lost the battle at home,” Seffers said “After Kersey lost the war at home, I knew we had to put something together.”

On Saturday, Nov. 10th, Team River Runner will be hosting an event to raise money for the scholarship. The event includes a silent auction, a fast-paced kayak football tournament, fun family-oriented contests in the pool, and an inspirational speaker related to veterans and PTSD.

“We made it late in the day so people can go to all their family events and then come to the game,” Seffers said.

The kayak football tournament will be from 4-9 p.m. at the Shepherd Wellness Center Pool. The event is open to the public for an admission of $10.

For more information about Team River Runner, please visit: