ELORA – The blisters have popped, his feet are “shredded,” and these days the longest walk Mike Duhacek is taking is from the couch to the fridge.
But he is elated to have completed his week-long, 208km “Help Me Bury Cancer” trek – a journey he made on foot from Owen Sound to Burlington while pulling a 212-pound sled.
“There will be a bit of recovery,” Duhacek said with understatement in a phone interview on Feb. 13.
“I’ll tell you I felt broken in Owen Sound, just 5km into the trip.
“But the send-off, the people who came out to cheer me along, it was all so amazing.
“But for me, it was the connection. We are not alone when we struggle with cancer. And my first thought is the powerful word of ‘hope.’”
This is the second journey for the Elora man, who travelled from Windsor to Ottawa pulling a 125-pound weight over 24 days in 2013.
That journey raised $43,000 for cancer research and this trek has already raised $21,000, although some school loonie drives and corporate donations are still coming in.
And the donation page at helpmeburycancer.com remains open.
Duhacek set out from Owen Sound on Feb. 4 in a -28-degree chill with the wind blowing directly in his face.
He reached Elora on Feb. 7 and had a great half-way sendoff the next day from a hometown crowd.
He arrived at the Halton Regional Police headquarters in Burlington, where he works, just after noon on Feb. 10, where he buried cancer – the word spelled out in wooden block letters he pulled on the sled.
These were the “big three” highlights, he said.
“But there were so many little high points” that boosted his morale and kept him going, including:
- farms with signs saying “Thank you Mike;”
- people walking with him for part of the journey; and
- people offering hot meals and places to plug in the RV that followed him on the trip.
Duhacek encountered all kinds of weather: cold, freezing rain, torrential rain, and a few sunny days.
He will lose a toenail or two, he said, and his feet are still too swollen to fit in his boots.
“I will recover,” he said. “The good outweighed the bad.
“And I thank all the people who engaged with me; the schools, the police and ambulance drivers who came out in support, the media for telling the story.
“Will I do it again? Not tomorrow, that’s for sure,” he laughed.
“But the book remains open.”