Canadian man with disability on mission to cross all 5 Great Lakes by paddleboard

Mike Shoreman is overcoming physical, mental obstacles to raise awareness and money for mental health

Courtesy photo. (Mike Shoreman)

Three down, two to go.

That is the current situation for Canadian Mike Shoreman and his attempt to make some history.

Shoreman is currently on two big missions.

One is to cross all five Great Lakes on a paddleboard, which he says will make him the first person ever with a disability to do so.

His other mission through that quest is to raise money and awareness for mental health programs in his native Canada, and even across the world, because mental health is a struggle he knows all about following a life-changing diagnosis in 2018.

A native of Ontario, Shoreman was diagnosed with Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, the same disease that has plagued a more famous Ontario native, pop singer Justin Bieber.

The disease is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system and causes mental and physical imbalance.

An avid paddleboarder, Shoreman was told he could never paddleboard again, but didn’t pay attention to that edict.

“It sent me on a huge mental health journey,” Shoreman said. “I realized on the other side of where I went, I never want to see kids or young people go to where I went mentally.”

So, Shoreman, who calls himself the “Unbalanced Paddleboarder” on his Twitter account, decided to do something about it, his diagnosis be darned.

Slowly, Shoreman got back into paddleboarding, increasing his endurance to where he felt he could take on all five of the Great Lakes this summer.

“I decided I wanted to become the first person with disabilities to cross all five Great Lakes and raise funds to put mental health and suicide prevention programs in schools across the country,” he said.

On May 29, Shoreman successfully crossed Lake Erie from Point Sturgeon, New York, to Crystal Beach, Ontario, a journey he said lasted 17 miles and took seven hours.

On June 12, Shoreman cross Lake Huron, going from Harbor Beach, Michigan to Goderich, Ontario, which provided a major scare.

Shoreman said he had a medical emergency in the middle of the night in the middle of the lake, but managed to cross it completely in more than 28 hours.

He was met by paramedics on the beach, but was ultimately OK.

On Tuesday, Shoreman successfully crossed his third Great Lake when he paddleboarded across Lake Superior from Orenta, Wisconsin to Two Harbors, Minnesota, a 28-mile journey that took more than eight hours.

On each of his trips, Shoreman is accompanied by a boat and a crew that feeds him every 30 minutes. There also is a filming crew that is documenting his every move.

“The biggest challenges have been logistics, my personal health and disabilities to navigate,” Shoreman said. “I get very tired through these. Navigating the weather and waves with mobility problems and vertigo is a lot of work and communication. Communicating with my teams when they are speaking to me is hard when my hearing is impaired and there is additional noise, boat motors, wind. Also I am going through the night, which is hard with vision impairments and figuring out how to do everything as safely as we can.”

But Shoreman has heroically survived it all thus far and filled an intent to showcase to others that the greatest obstacles in life can still be overcome.

The next goal is to paddleboard across Lake Michigan, which he will attempt to cross later this month from Union Pier, Michigan, to North Avenue Beach in Chicago.

“It will be the same length as Lake Huron,” Shoreman said.

If he navigates Lake Michigan, Shoreman’s last hurdle will be to cross Lake Ontario into his birthplace of Toronto, which he plans to do in August.

By then, Shoreman hopes one mission of crossing all of the Great Lakes will be complete.

But even after that, the mission of proving everyone wrong, raising awareness for mental health and proving that any adversity can be conquered will go on as long as he lives.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.