(FOX 2) - What do you get when a financial advisor, a personal trainer and a middle school science teacher paddle board across the Great Lakes?
Not a very good joke, that's for sure. Luckily, for Jeff Guy, Joe Lorenz and Kwin Morris, they have a better motive.
“When we leave shore, we don't touch anything,” Morris said. “The whole idea is to do it unassisted and to get people's attention about what's going on.”
There's a lot 'going on' for our three paddle board pundits, who have made it their mission to cross each Great Lake. So far, they have skirted across Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron. While past treks have provided them a sense of accomplishment, they've also pursued charitable means as well.
In 2015, the trio raised $10,000 for the Great Lakes Alliance when they paddled almost 25 hours across Lake Michigan. In 2017, they raised $7,000 for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary when they crossed Lake Huron. That took 28 hours to complete. Then in 2018, they spent 21 hours crossing Lake Superior, raising $15,000 for the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
This June, they will paddle from Belle Isle State Park to Sandusky, Ohio - hoping to raise $10,000 for the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR) to help combat harmful algal blooms.
“Our overall goal is to help keep the Great Lakes awesome,” said Jeff Guy in the press release.
Don't let the simplicity of that slogan fool you though; paddling for almost a day straight, with all of your gear is an exhausting venture.
“When you're beginning, it's always a party,” Morris said. “You're excited. But then you paddle all day with six foot waves behind us. Literally, (it's) the hardest thing I've ever done physically.”
For Morris, paddle boarding isn't difficult. He's spent much of his time in Traverse City doing it. Then one day, he and Guy got the idea to paddle board across Lake Michigan. Word reached Joe Lorenz at a Christmas party who had been kicking around a similar idea.
However, it would end up being one of the hardest things the paddlers would have ever done.
“You have no idea until you actually try to do something like that, it's a huge body of water,” said Morris.
It's not just themselves the three are pushing forward. Each paddle boarder also carries all of their food, clothes and filter straws for drinking water. If the potential hypothermia and extreme weather doesn't pose a big enough challenge, the general fatigue from stroking forward for a literal day is an additional threat the three will face.
But our Samaritans of the sea are experienced paddlers, and they'll have a boat tailing them in case things go awry. They're also traveling with the purpose of raising money for the Great Lakes, a worthy cause for sure. The water bodies surrounding Michigan face a slew of issues. From the invasion of quagga and zebra mussels clogging every lake to the threat of Asian carp knocking on the door of the Chicago river corridor that leads into Lake Michigan, there's no limit to the reasons one could raise money for the Great Lakes.
This time, it's to help prevent harmful algal blooms - a pervasive issue in Lake Erie.
“We're going to go by some of the most polluted places in our Great Lakes,” Morris said. “We'll be going by River Rouge and other places that need to be cleaned up.”
An algal bloom occurs when a surge of nutrients enters the water, spurring the growth of algae. This event triggers wide-scale death of organisms and a contamination of drinking water.
However, as the three chase their goal of crossing every lake via paddle board, they hope to catalyze a younger generation into activism and appreciation for the environment they consider blesses them every day.
“It's cool to inspire the next generation to prepare them and show them,” Morris said. “To teach them it's the little things that do matter.”