Brad Ludden

Founder of First Descents, Whitewater Kayaker


Kalispell, MT


Whitefish, MT


  • I founded First Descents in 2001 at the age of 20.
  • I was chosen as a CNN Hero in 2016.
  • I’m a momma’s boy. I’m happy to be living a life that made her proud.

Fun Fact

I love to fly airplanes. I got my pilot’s license in 2003 and have been flying ever since. I currently own a Cessna 172XP named Echo.

What does “Let The Outside In” mean to you?

Through my work at First Descents, I've watched in awe as thousands of young adults with cancer have courageously taken on countless outdoor adventures because they have cancer. Through their pursuits, I've come to understand something that I've always known, but never fully appreciated - there is healing power in the outdoors. Letting the outside in is both literal and metaphorical. To me, it means opening yourself to those possibilities the outdoors offer, that way of living and those friendships that can only be forged through a good ol’ outdoor adventure.