Pete Stadalsky and Noland McClelland are on a 1,000-mile canoe journey to benefit the American Diabetes Association.
The two young men, who hail from Aurora, Ill.,, left on June 25 in Whittier, North Carolina and intend to reach the Gulf in Alabama sometime around Labor Day.
They are traveling by canoe and sleeping alongside river banks, or wherever they can portage. There are no motors, no GPS and no hotels. Just two friends, a canoe, a tent, a map and a compass.
Both of their fathers have Type 1 diabetes and Pete and Nolan grew up watching their dads deal with the struggles of monitoring their disease with multiple daily injections, constant blood glucose monitoring and food calculations.
"We are doing something to support them as they have supported us all our lives," Mr. McClelland said.
Their first week was brutal, with bad weather, climbing a mountainside with the canoe to reach land, foraging through heavy brush to portage, chiggers and mosquitoes.
"For every waterfall there's a rainfall, for every star in the sky there's a mosquito," Mr. Stadalsky said.
But they've also encountered amazing people and wonderful Southern hospitality, as they've been offered food at restaurants and people's homes, rides to get from one waterway to the next, good luck charms, hugs and encouragement.
People are beginning to recognize the two from various newspaper stories and television broadcasts. Local8 Now (CBS) and WATE (ABC) both broadcast stories about their travels on July 2.
Their goal is to raise $10,000 for the ADA through their Paddle to Cure Diabetes event. So far they have raised nearly $7,000.
They are scheduled to arrive in the Dayton area around July 7 or 8, and then Chattanooga about July 10. Because of weather and water conditions, an exact date is not possible to predict, but sponsors are keeping tabs on their daily progress through a satellite feed Pete is wearing.
You can follow their progress at paddletocurediabetes.blogspot.com, where you can read more about the journey and see where they are at (Spot tracking link).