Paddleboarder aims to be first person with disabilities to cross Great Lakes

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 11:36 AM CDT
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DULUTH, MN -- Mike Shoreman, a paddleboarder from Canada is attempting to be the first person with disabilities to cross each of the 5 great lakes.

Shoreman was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome in 2018, leaving his vision, hearing, and balance permanently affected.

He was a paddleboard instructor at the time.

“After I received the diagnosis. I stood in an empty doctor’s office... and I remember like I just had tears streaming down my face and he said, Your paddleboarding is done. You’re never going to paddleboard 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 get very dizzy. It’s like a carousel inside my head. And in the initial stages, when I was walking, I couldn’t even walk in a straight line,” said Shoreman.

Shoreman was determined to paddleboard again.

He was successful but didn’t stop there.

He decided he wanted to become the first person with disabilities to paddleboard across all five of the Great Lakes.

“I thought okay, well we can set out to do these crossings. I just have to make sure that I’m strong enough to be able to do five back to back all in one summer,” said Shoreman.

After months of training, Shoreman started his journey on Lake Erie, on May 29th, becoming the first person with disabilities to accomplish the feat.

“10 days later I set out to do Lake Huron and it took me 28 hours and 22 minutes which was brutal,” he said.

Shoreman is heading 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’ll paddle to Agate Bay Beach in Two Harbors.

Shoreman has a team on the boat, ready to give him food or medical assistance whenever he needs it.

“We’ve got first aid trainers on the boat we’ve got people who know what my nutrition and my diet is going to be like,” he said.

He hopes his journey can inspire those with and without disabilities.

“I hope it reminds people that people with disabilities are capable of achieving things when people believe in them and I hope it inspires kids to dream big and to go after ambitious goals that they set for themselves and know that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to,” Shoreman said.

Shoreman is scheduled to embark on his journey on Tuesday.

He’s expecting a big crowd of friends and family to greet him in Two Harbors.

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