Paddleboarder Nears End Of Tennessee River Journey

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Decatur native is nearing the finish line of his nine-day journey to raise awareness about the Tennessee River's water quality.

Since May 11, Sean Miller has been stand-up paddleboarding from Chattanooga to the Mississippi/Alabama line.  The journey is more than 270 miles, with strong winds often slowing him down.  He and his support riders are expected to finish today (Monday, May 20) at Pickwick Landing in Lauderdale County.

Miller is also making the trip in support of the Tennessee Riverkeeper, a group that works to keep the river free of pollutants.

He reached Huntsville's Ditto Landing on Wednesday evening, where a crowd of supporters welcomed him and an armada of canoeists and kayakers joined him to paddle in to shore.  The Huntsville Fire Department had trucks there to sound loud welcome horns.  Miller perked up when he heard the cheers.

"It's been really amazing and very inspiring," said Miller.  "I hear that word a lot.  That I'm inspiring you or inspiring others to make a difference in the community.  But this right here is really, really meaningful.  Very touching to see these faces."

Huntsville City Administrator Rex Reynolds presented Miller with a proclamation and a commemorative coin.

The Huntsville Canoe Club also presented a check to Tennessee Riverkeeper.

Karen Thomas and Rhonda Davis Stoner are accompanying Miller on the trip in canoes.  WHNT News 19 spoke with Thomas on Friday during a break, and she expressed her gratitude to everyone who has supported them along the way.

"We are only as strong as the community of people who support us in everything we do," said Thomas.  "It's been great, we've made it, and we've had a ball doing it.  They're seeing us on the river, participating, and that makes us feel really good."

Thomas is President of Tennessee Riverkeeper and said the group's mission is to protect the Tennessee River and its tributaries by enforcing environmental laws and advocating for the water quality.

You can keep up with their journey on the Tennessee Riverkeeper Facebook page.