Toronto paddleboarder completes historic Great Lakes crossing
Posted August 20, 2022 7:54 pm.
Last Updated August 20, 2022 7:55 pm.
A Toronto paddleboarder has made history as the first athlete with disabilities to cross Lake Ontario, and the first to cross all five Great Lakes in one summer.
Mike Shoreman landed at Toronto’s HTO Park Saturday afternoon, marking the significant conclusion to his summer journey in support of youth mental health. The final 52 kilometre crossing took about 21 hours to complete after leaving from Youngstown, New York on Friday.
“Canadian young people are watching this and they’re seeing Canadians show up and they’re seeing that people care,” said Shoreman.
Shoreman was an avid paddleboarder when he was suddenly diagnosed with the neurological condition Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2018. He lost his mobility, the right side of his face became paralyzed, and he dealt with serious vision, speech, and hearing problems. But his passions kept him motivated. He re-trained his brain to walk and paddleboard again. Now he’s working with Jack.org to raise funds for youth mental health projects.
“A lot of this was a mental health journey for me, and I think on a mental health journey a lot of people feel alone and I don’t feel alone today and I’m really grateful,” he said.
“I myself had a mental health breakdown a few years ago and I feel it is a responsibility to give back. I hope that it helps save young Canadian lives and helps young Canadians feel not so hopeless and not so alone, like I felt.”
Shoreman began his trek on May 29th, crossing Lake Erie in seven hours, then completed a 28-hour crossing of Lake Huron on June 13th. On July 5th he crossed Lake Superior and he made the trip across Lake Michigan on July 27th – all of which made history.
“He sets an example for young people, to show that if you’re determined and committed, you can do it,” said longtime Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, who was among those on hand to congratulate Shoreman as he arrived in Toronto.
Organizers at Jack.org say Shoreman’s efforts have helped raise more than $60,000 for mental health services right across Canada.