If you are reading this column on Wednesday, then almost half-a-world away some relatives of mine are either preparing for or beginning the journey of their lives.
My cousin Kevin Morgan, son of Audrey (Pope) Morgan and the late Wayne Morgan originally of Paden City and state Route 7 at the foot of Turkey Run, respectively, and Kevin's daughter, Erin Fabian, are embarking on the Yukon River Quest, one of the longest canoe and kayak marathons in the world.
Beginning at noon (Pacific Time) today, 84 teams will begin this journey that includes approximately 460 miles from Whitehorse, Yukon, to Dawson City, Yukon. This "Race to the Midnight Sun" is virtually non-stop, with only two two mandatory rest stops totaling 10 hours.
Team Marauder, clockwise from bottom left: Erin Fabian, Jayson Fabian, Debbie Morgan, Kevin Morgan
Just how long does it take to paddle 460 miles in a canoe? I was wondering that myself. They must finish by midnight on July 3. That's a maximum of 84 hours, minus the rest periods of at least 10 hours. Some people finish by the afternoon of July 2. In order to receive any prize money, teams must finish in 60 hours. My relatives are just hoping to finish.
A couple weeks ago the canoers held a send-off steak fry in Madison, Ohio, near their homes. While we were sitting around our table my sister Betsy said, "You know we won't be disappointed if you quit."
Kevin, 55, and Erin, 28, both immediately said, "Thank you!" This is a very big undertaking and many people are pulling for them. It's just sort of exciting to know someone who is so active and adventurous. I guess we're living vicariously through them.
While planning for the trip there they were trying to figure out if they should drive or fly to the Yukon. Kevin's wife Debbie did a computer search and found it would take approximately 61 hours to drive there. "Sixty-one hours in a car is just ridiculous!" she exclaimed.
"Uh Deb, that's shorter than the amount of time we'll be in the canoe," replied her husband.
"Like I said, that's ridiculous!" she countered.
The thought that all of this is a bit crazy is certainly prevalent. Kevin said, "When Erin first mentioned the idea of participating in the 'longest canoe race in the world,' I promptly ignored it and figured it would be just a passing thought with her.
"When her enthusiasm for the challenge kept growing, I pointed out to her that she was, at the very least, slightly insane and her reply was, 'Well, you raised me that way!' How can you argue with logic like that?" Kevin now calls this the opportunity of a lifetime.
They also used it as a platform to raise funds for the Schindler Endowment Fund (which stresses outdoor recreational activities for developmentally delayed adults).
Erin's husband Jayson works in his family's business at Brittany Residential, a company that owns supportive living homes for adults with developmental disabilities.
"It was this connection that led my dad and I to choose the Bonnie Schindler Summer Camp Endowment Fund as the charity that would help motivate us to complete this race.
"The residents at Brittany are like an extended family to the Fabians and I have seen first-hand how camp week is the highlight of the year for many of these individuals. I am grateful that my dad and I are able to raise money for a cause that will directly benefit individuals we know and that we can personally witness the fruits of our labor. "
They have raised over $10,000 for the camp fund and Kevin and Erin are in the best shape of their lives. They have also undoubtedly created the memories of a lifetime during this journey leading up to the race and will make even more in the next 60-84 hours. I wish them good luck, speedy paddling, the unending energy.
If you would like to follow Kevin and Erin, the Montville Marauders, on their journey, simply visit www.montvillemarauders.com.