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Local Man To Row Across Lake Michigan For Childhood Cancer Research

Chicago (CBS) — September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and one local man is doing his part to raise awareness by rowing across Lake Michigan, a 65-mile long trip that'll take him 24 hours to complete.

Jake Beckley of Row4aCure is raising money for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. He said the inspiration for the trip came from a simple thought in the middle of the night.

"I woke up one night at about 2 or 3 in the morning with a crazy thought in my head and I said, 'I wonder if anybody's ever rowed across Lake Michigan.' And I elbowed my wife and said, 'I think I will row across Lake Michigan,' and she said, 'You are crazy. Go back to bed.'"

But for the next three to four hours, Beckley said he did intense web research to find out if anyone had rowed across Lake Michigan and whether it was possible.

The kicker: Beckley has never rowed before. "I had to learn how row to get on the water and keep it up."

He's training in a combination of ways, including working out with a personal trainer doing lots of cardio and lots of strength training. He said he's also doing open water training.

But Beckley says he wanted to make this his challenge for the children's hospital, because, "We have done so much for them throughout the years and [we] try to raise money for the different groups within there to help the families."

He wants to raise money for a specific laboratory focused on Neuroblastoma cancer research. "I am most passionate about it, because of their passion. Everybody who works there wants to work there and it's not just a job to them. They are not just hiring nurses and doctors off the streets. They have a passion for helping kids and what they do and it is inspiring."

Beckley also built his own boat for the journey. "There was no other option for what needed to happen on the water. Just the size of the lake and the unpredictable currents and I needed something that was bigger, longer."

Beckley's no stranger to doing wild things to raise money for cancer research. Last year he took a 9-day adventure to climb the second-largest mountain in the world in a desolate region of Sierra Nevadas, his GoFundMe page says. "This endeavor took me out of my comfort zone, but the constant training leading up to the climb prepared me both physically and mentally. In the end, I climbed a total of 36 miles, including 18 miles in 22 hours from basecamp to the summit on the final summit day followed by a strenuous nine-mile climb back to the base."

He said he raised nearly $6,000 for pediatric cancer research to support the work of  Dr. Mary Beth Madonna at the Lurie Children's Hospital.

So far for his new philanthropic adventure, Beckley has raised nearly $14,000 for the hospital on his GoFundMe page. You may learn more about his cause or donate by visiting the Row4aCure website.

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