Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Marking an adventurer's legacy

Event tribute to record-setting Starkell

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Whether it be taking a morning paddle down the river or canoeing the Amazon, what Dana Starkell remembers most about his dad, Don Starkell, is his passion for setting goals.

Dana Starkell has a goal of his own now -- to raise money for cancer after the disease took his father's life in 2012.

"I don't know if I'll ever really get over it. I was so close to him, I held out to the very end hoping for a crazy possibility that he'd overcome it," Dana said. "He really did try. He had a lot of things that he still wanted to do."

Sunday marked the second annual Paddle to the Park, which was put on by the Starkell family in memory of their father, Don, one of Manitoba's greatest adventurers. The event started at the Manitoba Paddling Association headquarters, then floated over to the Winnipeg Canoe Club on Dunkirk Drive, where 30 canoes, kayaks and dragon boats were put into the water.

"My dad would have loved this. He loved planning things that would get people together and motivate them," Dana said. "He never wanted to waste a moment."

This is the first year that the Canadian Cancer Society also took part in the event.

"This is exactly the kind of event that we like to be involved in," said Dave McKnight, the dragon boat co-ordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society. "We're honouring Don Starkell's trip. We're promoting a healthy active lifestyle, which is one of the best ways to prevent cancer."

During the event, Dana Starkell and his brother, Jeff, paddled with their father's six-metre yellow canoe they used to paddle to Brazil in 1980.

That trip remains one of Dana's fondest memories.

"We did 6,000 miles of coastline and conquered the ocean. Our lives had been somewhat spared," said the Iowa resident. "We had a feeling of triumph, but we were very sad because our goal of two years ended, and we had to start a new one."

Don and Dana's 19,603-kilometre canoe trip is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest-ever canoe journey.

More than 100 people attended Sunday's event, including Margerit Roger, a past member of Paddle Manitoba, who wanted to show her support when she saw the event on Facebook.

"It's a combination of Dana Starkell, a fundraiser for the cancer society and paddling on our river," said the Winnipeg resident. "Next year, we're going in evening gowns to make it even more fun."

Roger and her friends rewarded themselves with a picnic after completing the 12-kilometre paddle.

"My role was to sit in the middle of the canoe and knit," said Leeanne Penner, who was sporting a bright-pink beach hat along with her pink sunglasses and dangly pink earrings. "I decided to knit a red seat cover for my friend's canoe."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 22, 2013 B1


Updated on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 6:31 AM CDT: replaces photo

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