Today is October Turdteenth. Thirteenth if you don’t speak Irish. It’s a special day. Why, you might ask. Because… two of my very good friends, who you may also know, are having a birthday today and I thought they deserved some humiliation.

Rion Smith and Don Hege ladies and gents. Happy Birthday to both you guys!

Don Hege, the guy who really got me going in the paddle sport business. I owe a lot to him. These days Don works at Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Winston Salem NC. When I first met Don he owned a shop in Winston called Whitewater Destinations, where I first learned about Riot Kayaks. Whitewater Destinations was my first sponsor, back in 1997, and consequently they were the first Riot Kayaks dealer in the US. Don gave me a Riot Hammer and told me to spread the word about Riot and his shop. Well, Don ended up hooking me up with Riot and I became their sales rep in the Southeast. A few years later Don sold his shop to Great Outdoor Provision and here we are now. If you ever get a chance to meet Don you should feel priveleged to do so. He is to me one of the true icons of paddle sports. If you know him the way I do you know what I mean.

Here is a recent photo of Don hanging out at GOPC.

This is a photo of me in my first Riot Hammer, given to me by Don. Watauga Falls, high water, 1997.

Same boat again. My first Green Race, Gorilla, November, 1997. I got 11th place out of around 30 racers. I didn’t even know the lines. I must have zig-zagged all the way down the river. Haha!

Rion Smith is one of my best friends in the universe. He is important to me in so many ways, always as a friend and in business. Rion started as a paddle sports sales rep around the same time I did. We met in October, 1997 at the Wind-N-Sea Wave Blast, mine and his first surf kayaking competition. Neither of us has ever grown tired of kayak surfing. In fact that’s what we love to do together best.

In 2000 Rion hired me as a sales rep in his rep group, Outdoor Sports Marketing, where I worked for two years. If I had to be employeed by someone and not run my own business, I could not imagine a better work situation. Rion is the best boss you could imagine. In those two years Rion allowed me to co-start my own business with Daniel DeLaVergne, which became Penstock Productions. So in many ways Rion enabled the startup of Penstock and LVM by allowing me the time and freedom during my employment at OSM. I could ramble on and on about how great this guy is, but that’s a little history of our relationship. Rion truly is my brother from another mother. I should also mention that this was Rion’s turdyturd birthday.

Here is Rion chillin in a hammock on our Ecuador surf trip last winter.

I’m outta here. Hopefully I’ll be talking to you on the twentyturd. I have some good stuff to post here at that time.

Spencer Cooke, Effort.tv

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