Take passion, coping with cancer, desire to do something meaningful with life and the sum is greater than the parts - a 3,600 mile voyage to raise $100,000 for kids with cancer.
Avid kayaker, cancer survivor and Cape Codder Mike McInnis will launch Kayak4Kids on Dec. 1.
For six months McInnis will paddle up the coast from South Padre Island off Texas to Cape Cod to raise money for Hunyadi’s Hope on Wheels, a non-profit dedicated to helping kids with cancer.
The idea: raise money every time he stops through fundraising events while moving up the coast. McInnis already has a handful of fundraising cookouts planned in Florida and is looking to plan more events at marinas up the coast.
How did McInnis come to such a plan?
McInnis, a construction worker by trade and a landscaper as of late, was diagnosed with paranasal cancer last year. Self described as a person who "hates sitting around," imagine trying to rest and do nothing while going through radiation treatment.
"I was a rockstar the first week," McInnis said. At first he felt fine, but by week three he could not get out of bed. During treatment, his own pain wasn't what bothered him. It was the children in the oncology center for treatment.
“They were a mess,” McInnis said. “The kids have no idea they lose a lot of their childhood, it sucks."
Between seeing children’s pain and cancer's impact on his family - his mother just finished a bout of chemo, his grandmother and uncle both passed from cancer - it all clicked.
All that time sitting around made him realize he needed to do something.
"Raising a $100,000 - other than that, what can I do to help these kids?" McInnis asked. "Nothing I can do. I'm not a doctor or scientist. If I can help raise $100,000, then I am doing something good."
McInnis said he wanted to do a kayak fundraising trip prior to his battle with cancer and always wanted to do something.
"It has been something [cancer] that has hit my family pretty hard," McInnis said. "This trip puts it together with my life - kayaking, cancer, helping kids.”
McInnis is no stranger to fundraising or physical challenges for a good cause. He's participated in the 100-mile bike ride for MLS, but this challenge is far greater and bigger.
"This trip is definitely going to change me," McInnis said. "It's a good thing. I want to do something in this life that is good to do and makes me who I am."
The hardest part of the trip is not going to be the kayaking, McInnis said. He'll meet people on the water, talk about the cause and ask for donations - that will be fun, he said.
The toughest challenge is the pressure to hit a number - $100,000, he said. When he was thinking of how much he wanted to raise he said he figured a big number would be better than a small number.
"When you have a big number, people are more responsive," McInnis said. "'Is he going to make it?' they'll ask. They want to be a part of it."
McInnis is confident he will make it.
"I'll never quit, I will not fly home," McInnis said. "Unless I get a shark attack, I won't quit. I'll be back here on June 2."
McInnis flies out to Texas on Nov. 28 and will begin paddling on Dec. 1. He expects to return to Cape Cod with a big fundraising bash on June 2 at Trader Ed's in Hyannis.