By Bria Brown

MEMPHIS, TN (WREG) — A Michigan man is making the trip of a lifetime and paddling more than 2,000 miles down the Mississippi River.

Nate Denofre has been paddling in his 17-foot canoe along the Mississippi River with only his wife, Christa, and his dog, Marci, for the past 90 days as they work their way to the gulf coast. He’s not only making history, but he’s also defying all the odds against him.

“The river doesn’t judge you for what you look like; it judges you for what you accomplish,” Denofre said. “It’s pure.”

Denofre is embarking on a journey many are too afraid to go on. Starting at the tip of the Mississippi River at Lake Itaska in Minnesota, the Denofres have endured extreme temperatures and treacherous waters to make it this far.

“Many times we wanted to quit, but we will not,” he said.

Nate is paddling to raise awareness and funds for the non-profit organization, Courage Incorporated, which is based in Michigan. The organization helps disabled veterans and adults become one with nature.

Having been born without legs, Nate said he understands the concept of fear, but he wants to use this opportunity to inspire others.

“Everyone’s disabled,” he said. “A disability is something that doesn’t able you to do something you should be able to do. In my opinion, that’s fear. That’s number one. Fear disables us from everything.”

The Denofres couldn’t travel down the Mississippi River without making a stop in Memphis, where they met up with Dale Sanders, also known as the Grey Bearded Adventurer.

“He’s pretty in-demand up-river,” Sanders said. “Everyone wants him to come to their house. Everyone wants to see him because of what he’s doing. It’s really remarkable, but I just sort of turned on the charm, and I ended up with him.”

Sanders is no stranger to the mighty Mississippi. At the age of 80 years old, Sanders became the oldest person ever to paddle the entire river. Now he opens his home to other paddlers embarking the long journey.

Nate still said he hopes his journey can encourage others to turn their fear into courage.

“We promised to carry the American flag from Minnesota to the coast, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Nate said.

The Denofres plan on continuing their trip Sunday morning, when they’ll stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He said he has about three more weeks until they reach the coast.

Donate to the Denofres cause and follow their journey, here:

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