Thompson Rivers University

TRU Adventure Tourism Alumni set out on epic challenge

  Posted on: May 7, 2014

SharmanBy Dusan Magdolen

Two Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Adventure program Alumni are taking on the challenge of a lifetime. TRU Adventure Program Chair, Sharman Learie, and longtime friend Matt Kellow, Coordinator of Outdoor Recreation Programs at Vancouver Island University, will be hopping into a tandem kayak and competing in the Yukon River Quest from June 25 to 29, 2014. Touted as the world’s longest annual canoe and kayak race, Yukon River Quest takes place over 715 kms (444 miles) from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon.

Sharman and Matt were classmates and roommates in the world renowned Adventure Studies program at TRU. They were even paddling partners in the second year of their diploma and paddled from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, BC. The Yukon River Quest is a chance for these two paddle sport enthusiasts to reconnect and challenge themselves.

Even though the Yukon River Quest fulfills a personal goal, Sharman and Matt are giving back to their alma mater by using this challenge as an opportunity to raise money for student awards in adventure. Please pledge that they will finish the race and help support the Kellow & Learie Adventure Bursary for Adventure Studies students in financial need at TRU. The VP Advancement, Christopher Seguin, will back the venture by providing a security pledge of $2,000 if the trip is ended before completion, but the goal is to finish and thereby raise $10,000 in pledges for when they do make it.

All of the money collected will go toward creating the Kellow & Learie Adventure Bursary for students entering their second year in the Adventure Studies program who are in financial need. Preference will be given to students with a passion for paddle sports.

“We’re giving back to the adventure department because we both believe in the program. We’ve seen first-hand the positive impact adventure activities and getting outside can have on a person’s life. The program can be profoundly transformative for students. Costs continue going up so this is our small way of trying to help students with educational and professional goals.”– Sharman

For your chance to pledge your support, visit the TRU Foundation website at www.tru/foundation.


The Yukon River Quest is an annual marathon canoe and kayak race. Paddlers come from around the world to test their endurance, racing day and night on one of North America’s great rivers to the Klondike. It is open to solo and tandem canoes and kayaks, and voyageur canoes.

Mission statement: “To challenge paddlers in a world class wilderness event – a race to the midnight sun – the Yukon River Quest.


Sharman is currently the Chair of the Adventure Studies Department at TRU. He has been instructing in the program for 11 years, and guiding and instructing paddle sports for over 19 years. He has lead and participated in paddling trips and expeditions across Western Canada, the Pacific North West, Mexico, Coast Rica, Tibet and Nepal. Sharman pioneered numerous rivers in BC for commercial rafting and was the owner operator of Stella Descents Backcountry Adventures. In 2000, Sharman paddled the entire length of the Fraser River (1400km) with marathon swimmer Fin Donnelly to raise awareness about rivershed health in British Columbia. Sharman lives with his wife Kathryn, a photographer, and his ten year old twins Fisher and Indigo. The Learies are a very active and outdoorsy family.

Matt has been involved with Vancouver Island University for the past eleven years and is the current Coordinator of Outdoor Recreation Programs. He has an extensive background in adventure sports and has participated in or led a number of large involved paddle trips and expeditions on both oceans and rivers.  He has worked as a commercial sea kayak guide, raft guide, park warden, ski patrol, outdoor educator and just about anything else to do with the outdoor environment.  He lives with his wife and three kids on an intentional community on Salt Spring Island, BC.

 Pledge Form – Kellow Learie Yukon River Quest 2014_05_02

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  Category: Alumni