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Matthew Burdine Begins 2,300-Mile Paddle on the Mississippi River for BCRF

By BCRF | August 25, 2015

A tribute to the loved ones he lost, Burdine’s ‘A Million Strokes for a Cure’ takes place on the fourth largest river in the world

Matthew Burdine knows what it’s like to lose a loved one to breast cancer. When he was 17 years old, his mother died of the disease, a few years after his grandmother. That journey inspired him to start one of his own. On August 24, he began a nearly four-month long canoe expedition down the entire length of the Mississippi River. His goal is to reach the Gulf of Mexico by November and raise $100,000 for BCRF along the way.

“I began fundraising for breast cancer research because it is studying something that’s affecting women and men, of all cultures, across the world,” Burdine, 29, said.

Burdine, who named his trip “A Million Strokes for a Cure," plans on tackling the more than 2,300 miles of river by paddling 20 to 40 miles each day – waking at sunrise and resting at sunset – and will camp along the riverbanks. While he hopes to finish his journey by November, the choice will ultimately be left to the river.

“The only time I will be on is ‘river time,’” he said. “There is no need to be in a hurry on a river, especially one this size and one this beautiful.”

Throughout his journey the lessons Burdine’s late mother, Sallie Astor Burdine, taught him will remain close to his heart. During her diagnosis and treatment she wrote the book “Who Needs Hair? The Flipside of Chemotherapy” ­– a testament to how her perspective on the disease helped her feel empowered.

“She saw the beauty in everything, and the possibilities facing a challenge could bring,” Burdine said.

It took years before Burdine felt he could complete his personal challenge of paddling down the fourth largest river in the world. He initially pursued a career in finance on Wall Street until he decided to move to Colorado and become a ski instructor and whitewater-rafting guide. Now he has returned to his roots – the banks of the Mississippi River where he was born and raised – to complete a personal quest that will hopefully inspire others to support the cause.

“For a few years I have wanted to canoe the river and paddling for breast cancer research seemed like good fuel for days when it’ll be hard to continue,” he said adding that he anticipates difficult periods where he will have to react fast in unexpected situations – whether it’s big currents or massive barges – and remain alert at all times.

“The main challenge will be in maintaining a mindset that will pull me through,” he said.

Along the way, Burdine hopes his ambitious quest will motivate others to support BCRF and its global mission to fuel the world’s best minds in breast cancer research.

“Diverse minds from various places, seems like a winning combination to me,” Burdine said. “Although each cancer is different, just as each individual, any time something is studied in depth, something is revealed.  Research is important because it leads to revelations, and revelations lead to a cure.”

Help Matthew reach his finish line! Donate to his paddle today. Every dollar counts. 

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