The Advocate category recognizes individuals that have contributed to the advancement of whitewater sports through activism, environmental stewardship, ensuring river access, and innovations in manufacturing and whitewater courses and development.
Payson Kennedy Inducted 2005
Founder of the landmark outdoor company, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Payson has been a leader in promoting whitewater paddling instruction, rafting, river conservation, and safety.
Charlie Walbridge Inducted 2005
Charlie has contributed more than any other single person to promote river safety and develop standards and rescuer techniques. His work has saved countless lives and kept rivers open and accessible.
Tom Johnson Inducted 2006
With his River Chaser kayak design, the first ever plastic kayak, Tom revolutionized the sport of whitewater paddling. He also has been an advocate and supporter of slalom kayak racing.
Martin Litton Inducted 2006
As writer, conservationist, and pioneer boatman, Martin has played a major part in protecting many rivers from damning and also promoting the designation of national recreation areas.
Bill Endicott Inducted 2007
Bill has vastly influenced whitewater slalom in the U.S. and internationally for thirty years. He has coached athletes who won 57 medals in World Championship, World Cup, and Olympic competitions.
William Nealy Inducted 2007
Well known in the whitewater community for his entertaining and educational cartoons, books and artwork.
Kent Ford Inducted 2008
With more than twenty years of teaching, paddling, coaching and international whitewater racing, Kent’s has produced twenty plus videos and books on paddlesports.
Klaus Lettmann Inducted 2008
Lettmann’s kayak designs and construction techniques has had a major influence on modern whitewater kayak and paddle production.
Rafael Gallo Inducted 2009
As a founder and current President of the International Rafting Federation, Rafael has helped increase international rafting standards, awareness, and promote the sport throughout the world.
Bill Mason Inducted 2009
A renowned, award winning Canadian naturalist, author, artist, filmmaker and conservationist, Bill Mason is widely considered a Canadian Canoeing Legend.
Risa Shimoda Inducted 2010
Risa, a former board member, president and executive director of American Whitewater, has made many contributions to the whitewater community by promoting grassroots advocacy, freestyle paddling, river access, and whitewater parks.
Helen Brownlee Inducted 2010
Helen has dedicated her life to the sport of canoeing and has been involved in shaping its progress internationally and in her home country of Australia, notably the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney.
Oliver Cock Inducted 2011
Oliver’s contributions include filming and documenting whitewater expeditions, developing proficiency programs and tests, and slalom coaching for the British Canoe Union.
Ramon Eaton Inducted 2013
Ramon (Ray) Eaton was an outstanding leader of networking among paddlers from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. As Vice President of the American Red Cross, his knowledge and expertise in whitewater instruction and safety influenced ARC’s role and involvement in whitewater canoeing and safety.
Bunny Johns Inducted 2017
Bunny Johns quietly and humbly revolutionized how whitewater kayaking and canoeing was taught. Her facilitation of how the process, technique and safety of whitewater paddling instruction is taught and shared across the USA and abroad, quickly impacting both new paddlers and developing to elite instructors in the late 1970s and 1980s. Her collaborative and empowerment-based leadership style, combined with her rigorously scientific and relentlessly questioning, and research-based approach supported guided a period of profound transformation of whitewater kayaking instruction from the late 1970s all through the 1990s.
Chris Hawkesworth Inducted 2019
Chris Hawkesworth has been a key mover and shaker within the whitewater world for more than 50 years. In this time he has contributed as a pioneering expedition leader, competitor, equipment innovator and manufacturer, hugely significant film- maker, lecture-tour speaker, national facility developer, ever-present regional access officer, nationally recognized water safety specialist, expert witness, and more. Through his decades of camerawork and film-making alone, Chris made a remarkable and pioneering contribution to interest in, and enthusiasm for, whitewater canoeing, kayaking and rafting. The breadth and depth of his film contributions, which ranged from early technique videos to stories of World Championships and of ground breaking expeditions, remains unmatched to this day.
Joe Pulliam Inducted 2019
Joe Pulliam’s life has been dedicated to whitewater. It began with a strong love of the rivers of the Southeast and the people he paddled with. He was drawn in at the very beginnings of what became the whitewater industry. Early on he built fiberglass boats with Bill Masters in his backyard and in 1982 joined Bill at Perception as Sales and Marketing
Director and later VP. Joe brought to the industry a degree in Business from Clemson and a personality which made him an exceptional manager. Joe is an outstanding contributor to whitewater as a manufacturer (Perception, Dagger, Jackson Kayak) and has been a supporter of whitewater river stewardship for four decades.