In 1994 boatman Curtis “Whale” Hansen took his own life. Whale was a dedicated, thoroughly knowledgeable, and respected guide in the Grand Canyon. One of Whales’ greatest attributes was his love for his friends and his willingness to listen to others as they talked through their troubles.
Unfortunately, he rarely asked for any help in return. If there had existed a service or place that Whale felt safe asking for support, it is possible that he wouldn’t have taken his life.
Following Whale’s tragic death, this Foundation was created in his name and memory in an effort to address some of the challenges and uncertainties facing many boatmen.
The Whale Foundation’s mission is to provide confidential access to mental and physical healthcare professionals and a network of support services designed to restore, promote and celebrate the well being of the Grand Canyon River Guiding Community.
The Foundation also exists to provide a safety net for those transitioning from the profession of river running into other occupations. The Whale Foundation seeks to broaden the career opportunities of professional river guides – providing information, networking, and career counseling services – and assist those who are or become unable to physically perform this work.
Additionally, the Whale Foundation provides networking, education, referral and information services to the professional river guide community to assist these individuals in planning for their own retirement and for their insurance needs. These services are provided anonymously and confidentially to professional river guides, active and retired, their immediate family members and company staff.