N.B. man begins 350 km journey for teenage cousin battling cancer
HALIFAX -- On Friday, paddler Jean-Francois Daigle prepared to enter the Northumberland Strait. Putting his long-distance paddling skills to the test, he readied himself to set off on a 350-kilometre journey from Cape Jourimain, N.B., to Miscou Island – all to raise money for his cousin, who is fighting bone cancer.
“Sam was diagnosed in 2019 when he was 13-years-old. He’s been battling through it like a soldier since,” says Daigle. “He’s in good spirits, so that’s definitely something that’s going to help us throughout this.”
Sam Thériault, now 14-year-old, has had his leg amputated and continues on the road to recovery.
Daigle set up a GoFundMe fundraiser called Stand UP and Paddle, with a goal of $25,000-$35,000. As of Friday morning, the fundraiser raised $16,000 before Daigle was set to leave the shore – bringing hope to the ambitious paddler.
“In regard to aid and prosthetics when he [Sam] gets back; we hope he’s cancer-free in August, getting back to the recovery phase and getting back to something similar to what life was beforehand,” says Daigle.
For the next eight to ten days, Daigle plans to paddle 42 kilometres per day – a marathon every day.
While COVID-19 is keeping Sam and his family isolated, Daigle will be updating them on his progress throughout his journey. “He finds this pretty cool, which is pretty heartwarming – the family is behind us,” says Daigle.
And Daigle won’t be alone; support boats will be alongside during the trip – all operated by family members who want to help.
“Everyone wants to get involved,” says cousin, Felix Depres. “We have a really close family, so, when it comes to one of us being sick, our support is really amazing.”
Meanwhile, Daigle encourages anyone who sees him on the water to join in and keep him company.