Pete Stadalsky and Nolan McClelland grew up seeing their fathers' daily struggle living with Type I diabetes. They watched as their dads dealt with multiple daily injections, constant blood glucose monitoring and food calculations in an effort to stave off complications.
The two young men, who now live in Aurora, are doing their part to help benefit diabetes research and find a cure for this disease that affects 25.8 million children and adults.
Stadalsky and McClelland have challenged themselves to canoe over 1,000 in 70 consecutive days along the Tennessee River and the Tombigbee waterway to help cure diabetes.
Their fundraising trip - Paddle to Cure Diabetes - will begin in Smokey Mountain National Park, Tennessee, June 24, and end at the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, Alabama.
There will be no motors, no GPS and no hotels. Just two best friends, a canoe, a tent, a map and a compass. They intend to face the elements for this noble cause.
Stadalsky grew up in Channahon, Ill. and graduated from Minooka Community High School in 2007. He attended Moraine Valley College, Columbia College in Chicago and SoderWorld Wellness Center & Academy. He is a manager and barista at Starbucks, a certified yoga instructor at Aurora Yoga Center and is continuing his education.
McClelland graduated from Wheaton Academy in 2010 and grew up in Batavia. He attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a manager at Zumiez skate shop and a wire wrap jewelry artist.
The goal of their canoe challenge is to raise $10,000 for the American Diabetes Association. They have partnered with CrowdRise, an online fundraising platform named a Top 25 Best Global Philanthropist by Barron's.
Along the way, Stadalsky and McClelland will be stopping in various ports and plan to touch base with local media to further their cause. They will blog about their journey and keep journals for the world to see.
You can view their website, which links to their blogs and fundraising information at www.paddletocurediabetes.com.