Meet Brian Clark, a former Military Police Officer, with a compelling story that embodies resilience, compassion, and the transformative power of community. Brian dedicated 14 years to the Army, reaching E-5/Sergeant rank. His journey took an unexpected turn in 2020 when a car accident left him in a wheelchair, presenting new challenges that Brian has fearlessly embraced.
As a single father to his incredible 12-year-old son, Kaleb, Brian faced a pivotal moment in his life. Contemplating stepping down as the Chapter Coordinator for Heroes on the Water Northwest Arkansas due to his wheelchair, Brian’s team and friends rallied around him, persuading him to continue leading. Their belief in him speaks volumes about the impact Brian has made.
Impact of Heroes on the Water: Therapy and fulfillment
Brian’s affiliation with HOW began in 2017, starting as a participant and quickly becoming enamored with the mission. The catalyst for his deep commitment came when he witnessed the sheer joy of a fellow participant during a kayaking event.
“When Jonathon came back in, the smile that he had on his face…yeah, that is what got me. I’ve never seen a grown man smile or be so happy in my life,” says Brian.
In July 2019, Brian took on the role of Chapter Coordinator. His directness and assertiveness, traits that occasionally got him in trouble, have become catalysts for change and empowerment in the chapter.
“Being in a wheelchair presents many different challenges, but to be honest, I like the challenge,” says Brian. “I have put myself in a kayak and got myself out. I tell folks when they say they can’t get in or out, “bull crap! If I can, so can you!” That is the directness that got me in hot water a handful of times.”
Advice for potential HOW participants: Just your time
For Brian, being part of HOW is not just about kayak fishing. What he enjoys the most is the camaraderie.
“To sit and watch the participants enjoying a good meal, conversing with one another, laughing and telling stories…well, that is what makes my heart full,” comments Brian.
The invitation Brian extends to potential participants is compelling—they are no requirements except for their time. Whether it’s kayaking, fishing, or simply spending time on shore, the goal is to get folks off the couch, outside, break free from routine and embrace a new experience.
Brian’s personal journey underscores the importance of seeking help and shedding the misconception that it signifies weakness.
“When I got home from Afghanistan, I tried the tough guy approach to everything,” says Brian. “Well, by doing so, it cost me a 19-year marriage. I was of that mindset that asking for help was a weakness. Sadly, I had to lose a lot to realize that it takes more courage to seek and ask for help.”
Gratitude and acknowledgments
In expressing gratitude, Brian acknowledges the indispensable role of his dedicated team and extends thanks to the HOW national team for their belief in him. Brian’s story is not just about overcoming adversity; it’s an invitation to join a community that embodies resilience, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to making a positive impact.
“Don’t be afraid to get help. I promise you, when you come to a HOW event, you will never be judged or questioned. If you need help, ask and I can promise you’ll find it.” – Brian Clark