MINNEAPOLIS -- The Great Lakes are beautiful, but fierce -- ice-cold water, waves that crash into the shoreline, unpredictable storms.
But one man is attempting to do something not done before: paddleboard across all five. His aim is to prove that his disability will not keep him from achieving his dream.
When Mike Shoreman was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome in 2018, his heart sank.
"After I received the diagnosis, I stood in an ENT doctor's office with my dad, and I remember I just had tears streaming down my face, and he said, 'Your paddleboarding's done, you're never going to paddleboard again.'"
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is a neurological condition that can cause permanent damage to one's vision, hearing and muscles. For Shoreman, the disease affected the one thing he used every time he stepped onto a paddleboard: his balance.
"For me, when I turn my hips from side to side, or jump up and down, I get very dizzy," Shoreman said. "It's like a carousel inside my head."
But Shoreman was determined not only to paddleboard again, but to become the first person with a disability to paddleboard across all five of the Great Lakes.
"I thought, OK, we can set out to do these crossings," Shoreman said. "I just have to make sure I'm strong enough to do all five back-to-back, all in one summer."
After months of training, Shoreman started his journey on Lake Erie. On May 29, he became the first person with a disability to accomplish the feat.
It was an inspiring moment, but Shoreman still had four other lakes to go.
"Ten days later I set out to Lake Huron, and it took me 28 hours and 22 minutes, which was brutal," Shoreman said.
Now, Shoreman is getting ready for Lake Superior -- a task that he and his team are prepared for.
"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.
It's all part of a monumental journey, one Shoreman hopes can inspire people far beyond the Great Lakes.
"People with disabilities are capable of achieving things when people believe in them," Shoreman said. "And I hope it inspires kids to dream big."
Shoreman's plan is to begin his Lake Superior trip on Tuesday. He'll be starting in Wisconsin and ending in Minnesota.
His message to the largest of the Great Lakes: "Play nice with me, please."
for more features.