Three months after the pandemic hit in March 2020, Heroes In Transition held its first in-person event. It was a kayaking trip for military couples who spent a few hours enjoying the calm, serene setting of Popponesset Bay.
The outing was led by RideAway Adventures, a Cape-based company which offers an array of outdoor activities, including kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) tours, as well as rentals of bicycles, kayaks, and paddleboards.
Since that landmark trip, RideAway has partnered with HIT on organizing a variety of tours for veterans and service members; for military couples; for military spouses; and for military families. “Our mission kind of blends with Heroes In Transition’s mission,” said owner Mike Morrison. “What we’re trying to do is make adventure accessible to everyone, connect people with nature, and create ambassadors for the Cape Cod ecosystem. We love creating opportunities for veterans to connect with one another by connecting with their surroundings.”
Morrison and his crew were introduced to HIT in 2019 when his colleague Wayne MacDonald, who served in the Marines, participated in the 4th Annual Ruck4HIT. The company was an event sponsor that year and has competed in it as a team since 2020.
It has deepened its connection by leading tours which are a perfect blend of physical activity, socialization, and nature. This was RideAway’s fourth straight summer doing so.
This year, military spouses enjoyed a Cape sunset aboard paddleboards; military couples kayaked for a few relaxing hours on the water; and military families bonded with one another while kayaking, after which they were treated to s’mores at Camp Lyndon in Sandwich.
“I think HIT is one of the best nonprofits we’ve ever worked with,” said Morrison, who started RideAway Adventures in 2008 at the age of 25. “We’re wildly thankful for Heroes In Transition and for letting us be a part of their mission and what they’re doing for veterans. We’re so thankful for that.”
The genesis of RideAway, Mike said, is that “I jokingly say I had a quarter-life crisis,” after having worked for Fidelity for three years. He wanted something more meaningful that allowed him to share his love of the outdoors with others.
What started as a one-person company has grown into a full-fledged operation that includes two retail stores, one in Sandwich and another in Mashpee, as well as bike rentals out of Woods Hole, and guided kayak and SUP tours out of multiple locations in Sandwich and Mashpee.
Morrison attributes the company’s growth over the past 15 years to the support it has received from individuals, other like-minded businesses, and nonprofits like HIT. “It really takes the community to make something like this work,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without finding people like Nicole [Spencer} and Kristen [Alexander] at HIT and making these connections with these amazing partners.”
It is why, he said, RideAway Adventures is so eager to give back through the type of trips his company leads for HIT. While being out on the water is genuinely fun, whether you’re a veteran, a military spouse, or a military child, it also provides a number of benefits for those HIT serves.
“Any sort of physical activity like this benefits everybody. And it’s been proven to help with mental health,” Morrison said. “When you’re able to immerse yourself with nature, it gives you a relaxing feeling, it gives you that health boost, and it gives you a connection with the outdoors.
“You can’t be in the middle of Scorton Creek or Popponesset Bay and be stressed out. Most of the people on our tours are able to get that relaxation,” Morrison continued. “At the beginning of our tours, we ask people to not use their phones because our guides will take photos for them. This gives them an excuse to disconnect so they don’t feel the need to check their texts or emails. They are doing something physical. They are getting outside. And they are connecting with others and with nature. No matter how you look at it, that is healthy.”