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Hector Manley plans to kayak entire Mississippi River for charity

5:19 PM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- A kayak and the open water carry Hector Manley's dreams.

"I get more excited every day," he says.

Not only because he graduates from the University of Tampa this weekend, but also because his first plan post-graduation is to embark on a 2,400-mile kayaking journey down the Mississippi River.

The trip combines his love for adventure with his passion for helping others.

Part of the money raised from "Paddling for a Purpose" goes to The Wheelchair Foundation. The other part benefits the Wounded Warrior Project.

Manley has friends in the military and wanted to join himself, but he's a double amputee. When he was 11, he lost both his legs from injuries in an earthquake that struck his native El Salvador. So this is his way to thank troops.

"As a double amputee, I can't be there with them. I would love to. But for me, this is how I show my support to them," he says.

Manley normally practices on the Hillsborough River. He's never been anywhere along the Mississippi River, but says he's researched it extensively and talked to people who have made the journey before.

"It's not every day you hear of a double amputee who wants to do this. And you know, I want people to think like that, to think bigger than themselves, to set goals," Manley says. "I want to show people that they can achieve anything they set their mind to."

You can find out more and donate to Paddling for a Purpose through the website or Facebook page.

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