DULUTH, MN – Mike Shoreman, a paddleboarder from Canada, is trying to be the first person with a disability to cross each of the five great lakes.
Shoreman was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2018, which permanently affected his vision, hearing and balance.
He was a windsurfing coach at the time.
“After I received the diagnosis. I stood in the empty doctor’s office… and I remember the tears running down my face and him saying, The paddle is done. You’ll never paddle again,” he said.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a neurological condition that occurs when the same virus that causes chickenpox attacks certain nerves in the head.
“For me when I turn my head from side to side or up and down. I am very dizzy. It’s like a carousel in my head. And in the early stages, when I was walking, I couldn’t even walk in a straight line,” Shoreman said.
Shoreman is determined to paddle again.
He was successful but did not stop there.
He decided he wanted to be the first person with a disability to paddle across all five Great Lakes.
“I think it’s okay, we can start making these border crossings. I just need to make sure I’m strong enough to play five games in a row in one summer,” Shoreman said.
After months of training, Shoreman began his journey on Lake Erie, on May 29, becoming the first person with a disability to achieve the feat.
“10 days later, I started making Lake Huron and it took me 28 hours and 22 minutes, which was brutal,” he said.
Shoreman is going to Lake Superior next.
He and his team will take off from the mouth of the Iron River, just west of Port Wing, and he will sail to Agate Bay Beach in Two Harbors.
Shoreman has a team on board, ready to provide him with food or medical assistance whenever he needs it.
“We have first aid trainers on the boat, we have people who know what my nutrition and diet should be like,” he said.
He hopes his journey can inspire people with disabilities.
“I hope it reminds people that people with disabilities have the potential to achieve things when people believe in them, and I hope it inspires kids to dream big and pursue ambitious goals. expectations they set for themselves and know they can achieve anything they set out to, Shoreman says.
Shoreman is expected to begin his journey on Tuesday.
He is expecting a large crowd of friends and family to greet him in Two Harbors.
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