Joe Zellner pointing East over Lake Michigan with Peggy Gabrelson at Kohler-Andrae State Park beach near Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Vince and Audra Paul at Kohler-Andrae State Park beach. My Name is Vincent Paul. I am Peggy Gabrielson’s son-in-law and the web master for the 2 Paddling 5 website.  I want to share some of my experiences with 2 Paddling 5 over the last few months, why I was excited to be involved and the excellent day we got to spend with Joe and Peggy this past Monday at Kohler-Andrae State Park.

My first interaction with Joe was for a family gathering at Peggy’s house.  Within minutes I knew of Joe’s passion for kayaking.  That passion was bound to transfer to Peggy. The next time I saw them, they were kayaking together on the lake next to my sister-in-law’s house. It looked fun but it was WAY too cold for any of the rest to us to try.  This is what hardcore kayakers do though; they paddle whenever they have a chance!

It wasn’t too long after that that I first heard about this epic journey they were planning. For those of you that don’t know me, I love big productions and I also love things that challenge the limits of peoples abilities. I’m usually the first to advocate people pushing their limits. Nothing beats overcoming the fear of the unknown and pursuing a dream!

So, when I was asked to help with the website, I was all in.  Actually, I don’t know if I was asked, I may have just volunteered. Being in web development professionally for over 12 years I knew how important a strong web presence was for getting the word out.

Pediatric Brain Cancer Research

Speaking of getting the word out, here’s where the presence of this website is so very important.  Succeeding in something that is very challenging is always made easier when there is another motivating factor. In this case, where Joe and Peggy decided to do this for Pediatric brain cancer research, the motivation is strong. I have always been inspired by organizations/projects that help people less fortunate that I. In the past I enjoyed helping the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors (TAPS). When I found out that 2 Paddling 5 was doing their trip for Pediatric Brain Cancer Research through Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, I didn’t need much convincing.

This is a little philosophical but sometimes you know when you are doing the right thing. There is something inherent in all of us that knows when it’s the right time to step up; a time to share your talents and give something to others.  You can never force it, it just happens. What an amazing opportunity for me to help two wonderful people raise money for a great cause by helping document this epic journey!

When I was younger I never knew how fortunate I was to have a great family and all the love, attention and gifts that I received.  As you get older you see others in your life get sick and, in some cases, you lose those that are close to you.  It’s life; it happens. But when you stop for two seconds and think of children dealing with serious health issues like cancer, you truly realize how fortunate you actually are to be healthy.  Please stop for a few seconds in your busy day and consider these scenarios that other families struggle with. If you have an opportunity to help with any cause that fights against diseases, help if you can.  There are a number of childhood afflictions other than brain cancer like Cystic Fibrosis, Childhood Leukemia, and Pediatric Heart Diseases to name a few.

Help Support Pediatric Brain Cancer Research

Joe and Peggy are trying to raise $61,000.00 for Pediatric Brain Cancer Research.  That’s just $10 per mile that they will paddle during this approximately 6,100 mile journey.

Please click here to go to their donation page.

You can read more on their motivation behind this epic journey here.

Kohler-Andrae State Park, Sheboygan Wisconsin

The 2 Paddling 5 camper at the Kohler-Andrae State Park campground.2 Paddling 5 was just settling into the campground on Memorial Day, Monday, May 29th, 2017. Kohler-Andrae State Park was the closest Joe and Peggy have been to us since staring their trip on April 1. My wife Audra and I made the trip to see Joe and Peggy and finally meet Walt and Cathy! When I was younger my parents took us to Kohler-Andrae State Park just South of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  In another case of not realizing how lucky I was as a kid and returning there years later, this location is beautiful!

We sat down with them and heard a number of interesting stories from their travels so far. We talked about everything from how the garbage on shore changes from area to area, to the many interesting people that they have encountered.  The thing that struck me as most interesting about this trip is the fact that they are seeing all of these locations continuously. Most people see isolated areas on either side of the Great Lakes, but I was talking to two people that were on the opposite side of the lake less than a couple days prior. They were able to see expensive houses off the shore in the Chicago area and the decommissioned Nuclear Power Plant near Zion, Illinois.  This was just prior to being in Indiana and Michigan.  I personally saw both sides of Lake Michigan one year when I took the ferry from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan but I didn’t get the continuous change like they had around the lake.  What an amazing experience!

The travels for 2 Paddling 5 haven’t been a cakewalk of a vacation however.  Unpredictable winds, waves and unruly boaters are common hazards.  Not to mention the difficulties that Walt and Cathy faced navigating the 2 Paddling 5 camper through the heart of Chicago!  Every day brings a new adventure and a new challenge for the 2 Paddling 5 team, but the epic nature of this journey propels them forward. I’m just here to help them document it behind the safety of my own computer 🙂

Other Great things in the Sheboygan, Wisconsin Area

Joe and Peggy walking the boardwalk at Kohler-Andrae State Park.After spending the day talking at their campsite and walking the beaches and boardwalk, it was time for dinner. We decided to head back to Sheboygan and eat at the Perkins there.  It was a good meal and a great time to talk about things before it was time to leave. If you ever pass through that area, it’s awesome to see the gigantic American Flag that Acuity Insurance has outside their building. If you’re traveling on I-43, YOU CAN”T MISS IT… As Trump would say, “It’s HUGE!”

Thank you for reading and sharing in our experience at Kohler-Andrae State Park. We really appreciate you following 2 Paddling 5 and hope you too can get involved in someway in the fight to end Pediatric Brain Cancer or with whatever cause hits home to you.  Keep paddling through the struggles in your own life, share your talents, and together we can hopefully make the world a better place!

~ Vince

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