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May 20, 2013

Boat trip aims to raise awareness about Lewy Body Dementia

TERRE HAUTE — In 2013, the Year of the River, it makes sense to link a grand adventure on the Wabash River with a good cause.

That is what Bruce Borror of West Lafayette is doing as he pilots a hand-built 14-foot boat on a 300-mile trip to raise awareness of Lewy Body Dementia and to raise funds toward researching a cure.

On Sunday, Borror stopped the boat at the launch in Fairbanks Park after an afternoon of motoring downriver from Rockville. He started Saturday in Lafayette, overnighted at his cousin’s home in Rockville, and continued Sunday afternoon.

Named “Generations,” the boat was built from a kit in the early 1950s by Borror’s grandfather, Harold, and his father, Maury. They ran the boat up and down the Kaskaskia River in southern Illinois, and eventually, the boat’s ownership made its way to Bruce. He undertook a restoration project and upgraded the interior, as well as replaced the original 12 horsepower motor with a 25 horsepower outboard.

“Since I put the new motor on, I’ve taken my dad out on it, and he lights up like a candle,” Borror said.

His father, who now lives in Indianapolis, has been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a progressive brain disease that is often mistaken for Alzheimer’s. It affects thinking, movement and behavior, with symptoms of memory loss, sleep disorders and a shuffling gait.

“I decided to take a trip, and I thought, ‘the Wabash is here,’” he said, “and then I decided to take a trip for my dad, and raise awareness of LBD.”

An engineer for Caterpillar, he put his planning skills to use and has a chart of anticipated gas usage and distances. And he has a reference book about boating on the Wabash River. He had made an earlier stop Sunday at Montezuma, and he was planning to continue downriver to find a location to camp overnight. He said he averages about 18 miles per hour, using two gallons of fuel. The boat has two six-gallon tanks and another three gallons in reserve, so he has to plan his fuel stops.

Borror’s cousin Dan, accompanied by his dog Lizzy, is also making the trip in another motorboat. Interestingly, Bruce and Dan went with their own fathers many years ago on a week-long canoe trip in Missouri. This trip without their fathers is somewhat bittersweet, and it’s been interesting so far. Fairly quickly, they learned to watch out for the flying fish antics of Asian carp, which will leap out of the water without warning.

“I had one Asian carp encounter yesterday. It was about a six-pounder, and you can see where it slimed the boat,” he said. “It’s creepy. You have no idea it’s going to happen. It’s like these bombs going off around you.”

Borror said that while he enjoys sailboating on Lake Michigan, this 300-mile trip to the Ohio River is the biggest adventure he’s ever undertaken. But he feels both his father and grandfather would have enjoyed such a trip as well.

Anyone wanting to follow the progress of his trip can go online to www.3generationsboat.com to get more background and read daily updates. Donations can also be accepted online. So far, Borror said he has raised $4,500 for the Lewy Body Demential Association and its efforts to help those with LBD.

For more information about Lewy Body Dementia, go online to www.lbda.org.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter

@TribStarLisa.

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