Corey Lilly is widely recognized as one of the top professional adventure athletes in West Virginia. Lilly has led whitewater expeditions across the globe, toured as a professional skier, and is a competent climber, mountain biker, & outdoorsman. Before turning 18, Lilly received his first international sponsorship for adventure athletics from Elan Skis. After touring the USA as a professional skier, Lilly switched his focus to whitewater and has made a name for himself as one of the most recognized professional kayakers for his multiple first descent in North America and receiving the President’s Award from the American Canoe Association for his heroic efforts in the “Midnight Miracle Rescue” at Kanawha Falls in 2020— dubbed “The Most Miraculous Whitewater Rescue in the past 50 years of Swiftwater”.
Outside of his athletics, Lilly is a 10th generation West Virginian whose family operated the Lilly-Brooke Coal Company. After completing his Bachelors of Geology at WVU, Lilly moved back to the New River Gorge area as Executive Director of Piney Creek Watershed Association. Today, as a veteran of the outdoor recreation industry, he works to lead his hometown of Beckley to develop outdoor recreation assets as Director of the new Beckley Office of Outdoor Economic Development. Lilly has a unique approach to economic development by repurposing past coal mining and logging sites around the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve as outdoor recreation hubs to attract and retain young talent, celebrate cultural heritage, serve visiting tourists, and compliment businesses.
For his selfless acts of heroism, his thoughtful leadership, and his devotion to rebuilding West Virginia, RealWV is proud to name Corey Lilly as the certified Real West Virginian of the Week.
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