Wandering Around Out There With A Canoe On My Head

Pink Portage in Hamilton

Man with a dog and a pink canoe

by Preston
July 15, 2012

I recently met a fantastic young man who is on a unique and arduous journey across Ontario to help raise money for cancer. Please read on for ways you can help.

Pink Portaging

Can you imagine a 1,200 km portage? That’s “km”, or 1,200,000 meters. Right now there is a guy who is doing just that. Considering you can cross the entire country by canoe without a portage longer than around 20km (or 20,000m), you’d really have to go out of your way to portage that length. Well, he wants to raise funds for cancer research. He’s doing it with a bright pink canoe, because it’s the most recognizable colour associated with Breast Cancer – something that has affected his family specifically.

When Andrew was young, he accompanied his mother when she was undergoing cancer treatment. He recalls she handled it all with great courage and grace, despite how rigorous and uncomfortable the treatment. His mother’s cancer went into remission that continues to this day. Since then, both his grandmother and aunt were also diagnosed with cancer, and sadly after a long struggle, his aunt succumbed to a cancer that had spread to the rest of her body, passing away in 2005.


Andrew meeting people and getting signatures


So Andrew got this idea to portage a bright pink canoe across the province to raise funds for the Cancer Society of Canada, because as he puts it, portaging may be uncomfortable, but it’s nothing compared to the discomfort, pain and fear of someone who is undergoing cancer treatment.

What you can do to help:

That last sentence really stuck with me, and it got me thinking. Yes, he’s taking on some discomfort, but just like if we knew someone with cancer, we’d want to help out with that in any way we can. We can’t carry his canoe for him – metaphorically speaking – but we can help make his ordeal as comfortable as possible. I am urging you to help Andrew out on his journey in any way you can. First off, and most obviously, you can donate to his cause. I’ve recently found out that Shopper’s Drug Mart has agreed to match whatever money he makes, up to $25,000. He’s currently at $17,000. (That, by the way, is amazing!) Second, you can help spread the word. Check out The Pink Portage website, follow his blog, like him out on Facebook or Twitter. Send him some love and encouragement, then spread the word to your friends and family.

Andrew of the Pink Portage, travelling in Burlington, Ontario

Better yet, why not stop by and sign his canoe. It’s getting pretty full by now, but you can find a spot somewhere. To find out where he is when he passes closest to you, check out his SPOT GPS track for his current location. I’ve been trying to catch up with Andrew a few times during his journey (four to be exact), every time I head up North. But somehow I missed him each time. When I stopped by this afternoon to meet up with Andrew in Burlington, he received about a dozen signatures, but what was really cool was the people who just walked up and handed him money. A lot of people are inspired by what he’s doing. A lady even yelled out her support from her car, beginning with “Hey! I saw you on Breakfast Televison!”

Pink in Hamilton

I live in Hamilton, so I’ve been watching his journey, waiting for him to come to my town. I wanted to give him a proper welcome, and help out any way I can. In fact, I’m going to join him on his journey for a short stint, keeping him company, and I’m urging others to do so as well. Please, take a bit of time and stop by to say hello to Andrew. Sign his canoe. Tell your friends. And donate whatever you can. I hear he also never turns down a bottle of water (especially in this heat we’re having). I’ve made up a crude map here that depicts his journey. Some of it may change, but he’s definitely going to be walking along York street and to City Hall some time tomorrow.  I’m planning on escorting him on the toughest part of portaging through Hamilton – up the escarpment, or what we locals facetiously call “the mountain” – up to the Juravinski Cancer Centre, where he’s scheduled to give a talk to patients and staff. To further the metaphor of someone going through something like cancer treatment, the least (and I mean least) I can do is keep him company during a tough time. Please feel free to join us, as they say, the more the merrier. Let’s show him all the support we can.

You know what really helps? Every time someone wants to sign his canoe, he has to put it down. He’s a friendly guy and likes to talk to the people he meets. This means he’s forced into taking a bit of a rest. That’s how you can help. It’ll get his mind off his sore shoulders and tired feet during your visit, even for a little while. Sound familiar?

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