Wis. Dad, Sons Paddle 72 Days Around Lake Superior


A northern Wisconsin man and his three sons have made a 72-day, 1,600-mile journey by kayak around Lake Superior to raise money for charity.

Joe Bodewes of Hazelhurst set out in May from Black River Harbor in Michigan’s northwestern Upper Peninsula with 14-year-old Will, 12-year-old Luke and 10-year-old Noah. They returned Monday, about two weeks ahead of schedule, the Daily Globe of Ironwood, Mich., reported (http://bit.ly/nviYmJ ).

They paddled in three kayaks, staying close to the shore of Lake Superior, which touches Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Canada. After rough weather in the early part of the trip, they finished with 30 consecutive days of paddling and no further weather-related breaks.

“We kind of struggled in Minnesota,” Bodewes said, in part because they found relatively few camping spots along the shore. “It was cold in June and the water was around 38 degrees. Around the Fourth of July in Canada, it turned warmer, but then the bugs came out.”

Bodewes is a veterinarian. His wife, Molly, and their two daughters, Lana and Kristina, were part of a welcoming party of about a dozen people at the harbor.

“There come my boys,” Lana said as people along the beach applauded the kayakers.

The family paddled to raise money for HIV-positive children in Tanzania.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Chuck

    You know, this is a great story, however, how about raising money to help the needy in the United States. Maybe it is time to take care of our own for once.

    • Tom

      Kudos!! Well said. My first thoughts exactly.

      • TW

        So the kids around the world who suffer from debilitating diseases can just go die quietly and you would be fine? Lord amighty that is a heartless way to think.

        • Bill Berditzman

          As opposed to the neighbor I’ve lived next door to for the last 10 years – YES.

        • Tom

          I suppose YOU have ALL the answers then. Who should come first ‘Your Greatness”?? Forget MY kids, there are others around the world. People that do and say things of this nature are looking for self-gratification first. No glory any more in saving an American child. The same confused logic sends all the Hollywood stars to impoverished nations to adopt. It gives them the attention and publicity they seek, when there are literally thousands of children in this country that are equally deserving. So adding ‘Lord almighty’ to your rant gives it no more credibility. Honest.

          • TW

            No it was Lord a mighty or I could have said Good Grief as an expression of incredulity. No, I don’t think your neighbor kids or yours should die of diseases. It is sad no matter who or where there is suffering in the world. I give to charities that help kids both here and outside of the USA besides paying my taxes which cover all kinds of social supports in MN. So if this dad and his son want to raise funds to help a special project in Tanzania with kids that have AIDS then good for them and why don’t you do a fundraiser to help any group you want to right here? No, some would rather fling snippy comments at a couple of good hearted guys. Good grief and lord a mighty!!

    • ReDoc

      Why don’t you do something to take care of others. Instead of complaining about what someone ELSE is doing for others.

  • David Decker

    That is just your typical lib-speak. Yes it’s nice to think of other too, but we do need to start watching out for ourselves. No one else is. They all want to drag us down including our libs in this country. Obumbler is doing a good job of it right now.

    • TW

      I am going out on a limb but I would guess that this dad is not a liberal. He probably believes that private charity is the answer instead of gov’t mandated taxation spent on social needs. To me that is the big distinction between liberal and conservative. Liberals would rather have government be the funnel through which all help flows and conservatives would rather choose what to do with dollars they want to give without government strings attached. Government handout aid tends to yield dependency and private charities, at least the ones I give to, have built in “handup” programs. Americans are a giving people overall, liberals and conservatives.

  • Mick Miller

    I’m glad the piece included the guy’s occupation. I’m always interested in who can find 72 days to do this kind of thing. I’m 66 years old and still have to work every day except my normal vacation.

  • chinwhiskers

    Mike — I’m so glad to see a comment on the story itself instead of personal attacks on on the people involved & on those who write comments.

  • Dish2001

    I’m neither for or against our President because I feel everything that is happening today in our country started many years ago when he was just a sparkle in his daddy’s eye. He’s just the messenger so don’t kill em. Whenever I see someone doing something so selfless for others I feel ashamed of myself. Even though I am disabled I should still be doing for others but I don’t because like most other Americans I’m a lazy ass. Anyway didn’t mean to get on a soapbox here, but good going to the dad & boys & I’m happy to hear they made it back without incident. It’s sure something I would be afraid to do. God bless all of you & God Bless the USA

  • Med student mom

    I think that this man has accomplished no small feat while simutaneously leading his children in the same direction. Who else here has kayaked around Lake Superior? What an incredible journey to make with three very young men! I for one give giant kudos that any father should stop to think to do something so meaningful with his three sons to help others in the world. That he could take this moment in time, critical time while raising young men who may become a president, doctor, or humanitarian one day – to think of humans as human beings in equality without boarders, colors, nationalities, or level of deservingness. The fact of the matter is that many HIV postitive children in Africa have been left without parents or other guardians to care for them or lead them in an educated direction about not continuing the spread of this horrible disease. Perhaps this small contribution can prevent someone else from dying. And let us all be thankful that we were born into a country of freedom and healthcare like few other places in the world.
    Way to go JOE and Sons!!! You have set an example that I hope many others will think to follow. Helping others weather human or animal is important and you have managed to do both with your life. God bless you and your family!
    And God bless the democracy and freedoms we have in the USA!

    • joe bodewes

      Thank you all for your support and interest. I am the man in the article and I came across your comments and wanted to respond. Our trip was a positive life altering experience for all of us. My children chose the orphanage in Tanzania for their cause after hearing my stories from 10 years earlier when I was there on a visit. I was visiting my sister who had worked in East Africa for 9 years in the slums of Nairobi. The children in the orphanage don’t have families or access to medical care and rarely live to the age of my own children. I’ve donated my time in Nicaragua, Belize, Haiti and the USA but never have I seen such despair as I did in this small dusty town that no one has ever heard of. I have kept in contact with the lady that runs the project and know that 100% of the money goes toward the children. Lake Victoria is the 2cnd largest lake in the world and the village is on the lake so that is a connection as well. No political statement, just something my kids wanted to do and felt connected to.
      As to the question of who can afford to take 72 days off let me assure you that no one can, especially a father with 5 children who has never been given a dime he didn’t earn from anyone. The lesson my children learned was that with sacrifice and hard work you can achieve your goals and dreams but it comes with a price. Life is all about priorities. Fortunately I was able to hire a veterinarian for the summer to work in my place to make sure that all my employees and clients were taken care of.
      As for the liberal or conservative angle I’m a small business owner with five working mothers as employees. I’ve adopted two children from overseas and am married to a woman with three post graduate degrees. I pray every day for the well being of my family that I have dedicated my life too. Does it really matter? I wasn’t making a statement I was just doing what I could to be a good father in a way that I knew how. The press found me. Thank you for your interest and I hope I’ve brought a smile to your day. Joe Bodewes-kayaker

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