By Danielle Coots
For the Troy Daily News
TROY — Tom Helbig is putting his passion for the outdoors to the test by attempting to be the first person to travel down the length of the Great Miami River to the Ohio River on a stand-up paddleboard.
His trip, the SUP 156, began at Indian Lake and will continue down the river while making stops and camping at some quaint towns throughout his 158-mile journey. He made a stop at Treasure Island on Sunday, one of many stops along his journey. Troy marked 50 miles down — 106 miles to go.
Helbig, a Tipp City business owner of Tomfoolery Outdoors, began his journey on May 28 at the headwaters of the Great Miami River at Indian Lake near Russell’s Point. He will paddle, camp and fly fish along his adventure, while documenting his experiences on social media through photos, videos and media stops.
Waiting on the banks of Treasure Island Park, spectators could see a small glimpse of Helbig’s head as he rounded the corner of the bank. Sun-kissed and weathered, Helbig and his followers joined Troy Mayor Michael Beamish, a member of the Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, and Troy councilman Tom Kendall, along with many supporters.
The mayor brought chicken, goodies and water for the welcoming and Helbig ended his stop with a quick standup paddleboard lesson for the mayor. Not long after he began, Helbig said the river threw him his first obstacle — rain, mud and river blocks. On his Facebook page, he posted a video describing this small setback. After spending an hour waiting out the storm under a bridge, he decided he had to move on and go around the small logged dam area.
“For the business side, this trip is about live active, laugh more and inspire all and promoting all the communities along the way, to promote Ohio’s great corridor and show that if these communities embrace outdoor recreation, biking, paddling or whatever, it could be really good for the image of the town, for the health and vitality of its citizens and then hopefully draw in people to visit the towns that will benefit the local economies,” Helbig said. “But for the personal side, I just love to be on the river. What better way to spend two weeks than living on the river?”
During Helbig’s journey, he plans to document suggestions for river improvement as far as access, paddling-friendly amenities and better collaboration amongst Great Miami River communities. This mission is right in line with that of Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, to create or seize river-related opportunities for urban and rural communities to cooperate to bring vitality to Ohio’s Great Corridor by leveraging the assets of its communities, thus adding value to the regional economy.
“We are proud to partner with Tom as he begins his SUP journey down Great Miami River,” president of Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, Stan Kegley, stated in the May 21 press release. “It’s the perfect way to raise awareness for the work of our association, its members and the possibilities for economic development along the corridor.”
Upcoming river edge stops include: Today — downtown Dayton at Island MetroPark; Tuesday — Miamisburg and Franklin at Star City Brewing Company and Great Miami Outfitters; Wednesday — in the Trenton area; Thursday in the Hamilton area; Friday — south of New Baltimore Dam; Saturday — near the confluence of Whitewater River; June 8 — finish and shuttle at the Ohio River.
Helbig’s trip continued down the river along with supporters and followers as he makes his way to the Adventures of the Great Miami to camp for the night before continuing on to the Dayton area.
Helbig’s SUP 156 river challenge is being sponsored by Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, Great Miami Outfitters, Adventures on the Great Miami and Our Life Outside.
Follow his Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tomfooleryoutdoors.
“Spending time on the river is good for the soul, puts life in proper perspective and provides a strong connection to nature,” Helbig said. “This trip will showcase the communities, the people, the wildlife and the opportunities along the Great Miami River.”