Rhinelander man emBARKS on Wisconsin River fundraiser
Paddle Paws adventure idea came from Bark for Life
By Eileen Persike
Kayaking the Wisconsin River, from Lac Vieux Desert to Prairie du Chien may seem like an insurmountable task. Rhinelander’s Vince Lofquist sees a kind of parallel between his upcoming adventure, and cancer patients.
“I’m going to be by myself most of the trip, but I think mine is the easy part,” Lofquist said. “People with cancer, they can really struggle. I’m just trying to raise money for them.”
‘Paddle Paws’ is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and Bark for Life; both important organizations to Vince and his wife, Carol, who lost her father to cancer. She also runs TLC Dog Training and helped get Bark for Life started in the Rhinelander area two years ago.
“I train therapy and service dogs and I know that dogs play a big part in the healing process when someone is sick,” Carol said. “That is why I like Bark for Life. Right now we’re the top fundraiser in the division, but Minnesota might be tough to hold off.”
Vince said he knew of a couple of guys who kayaked the Mississippi and thought he could do the Wisconsin. Then, to stay atop the division, he decided to turn his adventure into a Bark for Life fundraiser, and is selling stickers that look like dog paws, which are available at Pawz N Clawz in Rhinelander.
“People are buying the paws for $5 each in memory of a loved one, or maybe a pet,” Vince said. “I already have around 80 paw stickers on my kayak.” He also has stickers on his Kayak paddle.
Paddle Paws begins July 25, putting kayaks in the river in Watersmeet, Michigan at Lac Vieux Desert Resort, and taking out south of Eagle River at the wayside on Highway 17. Day two goes from the Rainbow Flowage Dam near Lake Tomahawk to the Boom Lake boat landing in Rhinelander. Lofquist expects to have company the first day or two, but will likely be on his own after that, until he reaches the Wyalusing State Park in Prairie du Chien, sometime around August 9.
Carol expects it will be nerve wracking, watching from shore. The couple drove the course, making note of the dams and other potential barriers along the way. But the river, she said, is beautiful, and should not be taken for granted. Kind of like good health.
Follow Vince and the Paddle Paws adventure at RelayForLife.org/BarkNorthwoodsWI or on facebook, Bark for Life Northwoods WI.