Jerry’s Baddle April 28 in Saluda

Published 7:54 pm Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brooks Saucier and Jerry Beckwith at the Assault on Marion ride in 2005 just weeks before Beckwith was formally diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s. (photo submitted)

Event benefits fight against ALS, Green River Access fund
Kayaking and biking enthusiasts will have the opportunity Saturday, April 28 to take part in Jerry’s Baddle, a sporting event and festival honoring the life of Jerry Beckwith, an avid cyclist and kayaker who died of ALS on April 4, 2006.
The kayaking and cycling race will lead off from Wilderness Cove Campground Saturday morning and conclude with an afternoon of live music and food, beginning at 1 p.m.
Brooks Saucier of Lynn was a close friend of Beckwith’s. He said the race aims to keep Beckwith’s spirit alive by raising money to fight ALS. Organizers also desire to promote the type of community Beckwith loved.
“He asked friends to keep him in their minds whenever they were kayaking, biking or enjoying nature in general, because that was what he was all about,” Saucier said. “He had his quirky habits that made him Jerry but at the same time he was a hospice nurse who was used to taking care of other people so he was incredibly compassionate. He was also a professional triathlete back in the 80s and 90s, so he was a very driven and motivated person, too.”
Saucier said once Beckwith received the diagnosis he stopped working and went to France to compete in the Tour de France. He then traveled to California to spend time with his sister. Saucier said he was determined to live fully what was remaining of his life.
This included being present at the first Jerry’s Baddle, which took place two weeks before his death. Saucier said he got the idea to put something together in honor of Beckwith after seeing another group of friends do something similar for a girl he went to school with who had Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“The first year it was really just very basic – over the years people are getting more and more excited about it and competitive with it,” Saucier said. “[Jerry] thought it could be a really great event bringing a lot of people together. It’s the fact that so many people are so excited about it and enthusiastic about it that keeps it going.”
Saucier said about 40 individuals come out to compete each year, including some pro-level kayakers.
Registering Saturday morning at Wilderness Cove Campground, solo and team racers will paddle the famous Green River Narrows and then pedal a 26-mile bike race.
Only experienced kayakers will race the Class V rapids in the 3-mile stretch of the Green Narrows. The 26-mile bike course will challenge almost the same caliber of cyclists. The ride climbs a total of 4,000 feet as cyclists race up the infamous switchbacks, circle historic downtown Saluda, enjoy the Holbert Cove descent and ramble back up the Green River valley.
Race day check-in is between 8-9 a.m. at Wilderness Cove.
Those who are not interested in racing are invited to participate as spectators and festivalgoers. Saucier encourages spectators hiking into the Green Narrows gorge to watch the race to make a $20 donation afterwards toward the festival. He said if anyone is interested in supporting the cause they can select the “donate” button on the website,
Since its inception the event has raised over $50,000 in support of ALS and the Green River Access fund.
To learn more about Jerry’s Baddle, visit

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