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Kayaker With A Cause Makes Pit Stop In Yonkers

YONKERS, N.Y. – A North Carolina man looking to paddle his way to cleaner water landed in Yonkers Friday, a pit stop on his 6,000 mile journey.

John Tart coasted into the Yonkers’ Paddling and Rowing Club just after 4:30 p.m., where he was welcomed by club members and City Council President Chuck Lesnick.

For Tart, the canoe club served as a one night rest stop before he sets out to continue his tour of the American waterways.  The journey that started nearly a year ago is meant to raise money to supply developing countries with clean water.

“I was looking for something crazy and adventurous to do before I got married and had a career and settled down,” Tart said Friday after docking. “This is what I came up with.”

The 23-year-old graduate of Cincinnati Christian University pushed off from the Buckeye state on July 23 of 2011. Since then he has paddled as estimated 3,200 miles and raised over $9,000 in his Paddle For Wells campaign.

All of the money raised is donated to Charity: Water , a nonprofit group who helps drill wells for fresh water in places like Ethiopia and Bangladesh.  Tart said he was inspired to join the cause after taking a handful of mission trips to South America.

“I saw the water crisis and I wanted to do something to help,” he said. “This trip is my way to help.”

So far, Tart’s trip has taken him down the Ohio River, across the Gulf Coast, around the tip of Florida and north along the Atlantic Coast to the Hudson River. After he leaves Yonkers, Tart will make his way to Albany before connecting to Lake Erie, travel around Michigan and the Great Lakes and back to the Ohio River.

Equipped with just a kayak and a few essential supplies, Tart has spent nights sleeping in a hammock along the shoreline or staying in the home of strangers.  He has had to deal rain, wind, being chased from his camp by a black bear and even losing his kayak for three days in the Ohio River.

Despite all that, Tart said he has no regrets.

“It’s lonely at times but I meet so many people that it more than makes up for it,” he said.

On Friday, Tart got a unique perspective of New York City, paddling past the Statue of Liberty and under the George Washington Bridge before landing in Yonkers. The paddler said his first trip to the Big Apple won't be his last.

“I’ll have to come back and experience New York the regular way,” he said.

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