Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Brock Wood is on a journey.
“Camping for 60 days is a big deal for anyone,” he said.
He isn’t just camping. He’s kayaking the entire Mississippi River – from Itasca to New Orleans.
The kayaks first hit the water on June 17, but for Wood the journey began last year.
On an elk hunting trip in Colorado, the entire left side of Wood’s body suddenly went numb.
“I thought I was having a heart attack,” he said. “It was a pretty tough moment actually. It was one of the first times I’ve seen my dad have some tears.”
Wood crawled five miles back to the car and was then rushed to the hospital. Doctors eventually determined he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes.
“I’m the youngest of five,” he said. “We’ve never had a health problem through our families. None of us even have glasses.”
After extensive treatment, including six weeks of chemotherapy and three weeks of radiation, Wood was labeled cancer free in March. But instead of taking it easy, he’s taking to the river.
“We are shooting for $100,000, and we are at about the $20,000 mark right now,” Wood said.
Through his Paddle 4 Kins website, the purpose of Wood’s 60-day trip is to raise money for lymphoma research. It’s something his long-time friend Dan Anderson couldn’t resist.
“I couldn’t say no,” he said.
They are going 2,400 mile, and without the help of a GPS. Instead, Brock and Dan have printed more than 200 maps from the Army Corps of Engineers.
They camp at night, and during the day they sometimes have to portage for a mile to get around a dam. They battle the heat, the bugs, and take on choppy and windy conditions.
If all goes well, the duo will reach the Gulf of Mexico sometime in early August. From one journey to another, Brock is getting support from seemingly everyone, including a 10-year-old who insisted on giving him a donation.
“That was awesome to see,” Wood said. “A 10-year-old kid can support me with $10. Not just me, lymphoma research. That means a lot.”
He said he had been going to school to become a priest before he found out he had cancer.
He wants to thank his sponsors, his family, the town of Alexandria, and God for allowing him to kayak for his cause.