Brad Ellis Spirit Award

While the Texas Water Safari is normally a festive and joyous occasion, the 50th race held in June 2012 took a somber note when a competitor tragically lost his life.  

On June 10 at approximately 4:30 Sunday morning, approximately 100 miles downstream from the start of the Texas Water Safari, competitor, Brad Ellis, fell from boat number 22 into the Guadalupe River. His partner Ian Rolls rescued him and immediately called for help from passing competitors. A 911 call from a cell phone made by a competitor alerted medical services and a helicopter transported Brad Ellis to the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

While medical professionals tried unsuccessfully to revive Brad, he was pronounced dead on Monday. The cause of death was hyponatremia, an aliment caused by low sodium in the blood.

“When my wife, Joy, and I learned about Brads condition, we immediately left the race and drove to the hospital in San Antonio.  When we reached the hospital Sunday morning, we met family and friends who anxiously awaited news of Brad’s condition.  During the day we all waited hoping for positive news on Brad, but he never regained consciousness and passed away on Monday. I have since learned that Brad was well liked by his hunting buddies and he had a smile that was contagious.  Someone said Brad never met a stranger. I regret that I never met him. He certainly sounds like someone who will be missed by all those who knew him.”   Bob Spain 

In order to never forget Brad and to keep his memory alive, the Texas Water Safari Board created the Brad Ellis Spirit Award. The award will be given to safari competitors or team captains that perform an act of unselfish sportsmanship during the race. The award will be presented yearly at the Texas Water Safari.      

Nomination Procedure

The award will be presented to any TWS competitor or team captain that demonstrates an extraordinary, unselfish act of sportsmanship during the Texas Water Safari. Nominations will be accepted from any TWS volunteer, race official, team captain or competitor that witnesses the act. A written nomination of no more than 150 words must be submitted to the Texas Water Safari Board. If a worthy nomination(s) is submitted and approved by the Texas Water Safari Board prior to the TWS Banquet on Tuesday, the award will be announced at the Awards Banquet. However, if a worthy nominate has not been received and approved prior to the Awards Banquet on Tuesday, nominations will be accepted until the conclusion of the race at 1:00 PM on Wednesday. If the award is not presented at the race, it will be presented the following year.

The recipient(s) of the Brad Ellis Spirit Award will receive a plaque that is retained for one year and then must be returned to the Texas Water Safari Board no later the date of the Texas River Marathon (first Saturday in May).  

Brad Ellis Award Winners:

2013 – Jon Newcomb and Andy Topin

2014 – Pete Binion

2015 – No Award

2016 – No Award

2017 – Richard Wessels and David Deal


Brad Ellis