‘Paddle to a Cure’ a success

Former Fort Frances resident Kathleen McFayden’s participation in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Paddle to a Cure” fundraiser earlier this month was a success on many levels.
“It was truly a wonderful experience” said McFayden, who was a little sunburned from her many hours on the water. “We were focused on the cause the whole time.”
McFayden spent Aug. 3-10 in a sea-kayak on Georgian Bay as a part of the “Women on the Way” team. The 120-km trip was designed to raise awareness and money for cancer research.
The team had four guides and nine participants in total—six of whom were cancer survivors themselves.
“I’m not exactly sure about the total, but we raised over $5,000,” McFayden said. “That pretty much doubled our requirement.”
The group even bolstered its fundraising total in the middle of Georgian Bay.
“At one point, we stopped just for a break and a gentleman who had seen us the night before came by and gave us some money,” McFayden laughed. “Here we are in the middle of nowhere and we were still getting support.”
The trip started Killarney and ended seven days later in Britt, Ont. But its pace could not be described as leisurely.
“We were on the water every morning by 6:30 a.m.,” McFayden recalled, noting the kayaks were on the water for five-eight hours every day.
“We definitely had to push but it was worth it,” she added.
The group travelled in five solo boats and four tandem ones. And traversing the water in sea kayaks had its own challenges.
“The big joke was that these things don’t turn on a dime, they turn on a toonie,” McFayden joked.
With the help of many sponsors who donated boats, tents, thermal rests, and food, the trip could concentrate on the cause—and each other’s company.
“It was intense but we laughed a lot,” said McFayden. “We had a lot of fun. [The participants] were there for the fun of it.”
McFayden initially decided to participate because it was in support of a cause she felt strongly about.
“It was something I could do to help,” she stressed. “I do know people in my life that had cancer, and this was my way to make a difference.
“It made cancer even more in the forefront of my mind,” she remarked.
For McFayden, the most fulfilling part of the trip was meeting the other paddlers—the cancer survivors—that she now counts among her friends.
“We will definitely keep in touch,” she said. “There were some great connections made.”