GRAND DIGUE, N.B. -- A New Brunswick man has reached the finish line, after taking on a grueling physical challenge in order to raise money for his cousin who is battling cancer.

It took Jean-Francois Daigle seven-and-a-half days to paddleboard from Cape Jourimain, N.B. to Miscou Island, N.B.

Daigle undertook the 350-kilometre journey in order to raise money for his cousin, Sam Thériault, 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,” said Daigle in an interview with CTV Atlantic on July 17.

Thériault, now 14, has had his leg amputated and continues on the road to recovery.

Daigle set up a GoFundMe page called Stand UP and Paddle, with a goal of raising $25,000-$35,000 to cover the costs of therapy and a prosthetic.

Daigle left Cape Jourimain on July 17 and essentially paddled a marathon (42 kilometres) each day.

“When you’re at that mid-point and everything hurts, but you’re seeing we’re at $20,000 and the whole community is behind you and the whole family is behind you, it pushed me,” says Daigle.

“In the afternoon, on boats, on dunes, you’d have people waving, clapping. We had some people follow on kayaks and sea-dos.”

Another bit of encouragement came as Daigle neared the finish line.

“They actually put me on Facetime live and we did a Facetime with his (Thériault’s) mom and sister while he was going through treatments,” says Daigle.

Daigle figures he paddled more than 100,000 stokes, which has taken a toll on his forearms and hands.

“Massages, booking massages, everything hurts. Also using foam rollers, heating pads, cold ice packs,” he says.

In addition to emotional support, this fundraiser also received significant financial support.

“We would have been tickled pink with $35,000,” says Daigle.

“Now we’re getting close to, if not over, $50,000, which is all money we know the family is going to need and Sam is going to need in regards to his recovery. Hopefully he rings the bell, the survivor bell, later next month.”