The Ocoee River has a lasting impression: one that becomes inherent the moment any river guide or whitewater enthusiast steps into the rushing water. Alongside the roaring waters, our guides and enthusiasts - our community - are what create heritage and cast a lasting legacy. This page is dedicated to those community members who legacy lives on.



JANUARY 28, 1992 - JULY 9, 2005

Raised with his sisters on the Sunburst outpost, Stan had been playing on whitewater since he could walk. His love for the water was infectious; just as adept and jovial guiding a family safely down the Ocoee as he was hand paddling the Horse Pasture.

Stan was the kind of person who truly wanted to know about you and could make strangers feel like old friends. He was the best on the river and community could produce.

Stan was leading a Sunburst trip when a raft became stuck on Alien Ledge on the Upper Ocoee River.  While attempting to swim to the raft to help the guests, he was pulled into an underwater sieve.  



NATHAN john mcdade

MARCH 13, 1981 - JANUARY 8, 2018

Nathan began his kayaking journey at age 12 learning the basics at the Knights of Columbus swimming club in Nashville, TN. His father, Dennis McDade, was an avid whitewater enthusiast and wanted to pass along his passion for whitewater to his only son. Nathan took to the water like he was born for it: mastering rolling in a swimming hole at the Ocoee Inn Marina.

Nathan was almost immediately adept at the sport and quickly became involved in competition kayaking – competing in his very first event at the former site of Opryland amusement park at age 13. It was a whirlwind of traveling, competing, training for the next several years. NOWR freestyle points series leader 1998, #2 junior kayak on 1999 U.S. team, competing in the World Freestyle Championship 1999, completing high school at The Academy at Adventure Quest in 1999 -spending one semester in New Zealand and one in Ecuador, 4 trips down the Grand Canyon, 5 trips down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, and the list goes on and on.

Nathan worked on the Ocoee as a raft guide for Sunburst Adventures for several summers. Rafting, though not his passion in the same way kayaking was, was in his soul, too. He frequently guided friends and family down the Ocoee when not working as an official guide. He loved to take his sister, Mallory, and he rescued her many a time from the roaring waters with a huge smile and a back breaking hug. The Ocoee River was always his second home. It is where he mastered his first roll and even up until his passing, he could still be found playing in hells hole whenever he got the opportunity.

Nathan’s love of the water took a new turn into creek boating as he got older. As with his first attempt at kayaking, creeking was love at first drop. Anytime the rains came through, Nate would smile mischievously and start frantically calling to recruit any or all of his river friends for an impromptu adventure.

He lived for the rush; always waiting for the next rain, the next drop, the next joke, the next adventure. And he lived for his beloved family – his parents Dennis and Rebecca, and his younger sisters Mallory and Molly. Nathan became a father on July 15th 2008. Nathan dreamed of sharing his love for the water with his son, Tyler, and was able to do so before his passing by spending countless hours teaching him how to swim. Tyler also spent many hours mesmerized watching Nathan’s kayaking videos. Nathan’s family and friends are dedicated to keeping the spirit of the water, of Nathan, alive through our memories and through his son.

Nathan John McDade was larger than life to all that loved him, and even those who didn’t. His heart forever full of love, adventure, and laughter is now beating in a life he saved by choosing to be an organ donor.  No matter what life threw at Nathan, his love for his family, the water, and the world prevailed.

“I can’t believe that we would lie in our graves wondering if we had spent our living days well. When I step into the light, my arms are open wide. Would you not like to be sitting on top of the world with your legs hanging free?” – Dave Matthews Band (a favorite of Nathan’s)