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Cody Ledsworth Finishes His 216-mile Kayak Trip to Raise Funds for Parkinson's Disease

Cody Ledsworth paddled to the finish line at a boat launch on Muskegon Lake on Tuesday after six days of kayaking down the Muskegon River to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease Foundation in honor of his grandmother, Marguerite Ledsworth, who has been fighting the disease since 2002.

“It’s fantastic, just fantastic,” said Dennis Ledsworth, Cody’s grandfather. “The love that is shown through this is amazing. For a 20-year-old to do that is just so great. We’re just so proud of him.”

Cody has raised $2,344, just short of his $2,500 goal. However, his original goal was $500.

“I was surprised,” Cody said of the donations. “It’s a lot more than I thought it would be, we crushed $500 in the first few hours.”

Cody said he probably won’t do the trip again and joked that if he did he’d go upstream, because then the wind might be at his back rather than fighting against it the entire time.

Cody’s dad, Jon Ledsworth, joined Cody on the water Monday and said the wind was so strong that it pushed Cody upstream if he didn’t paddle.

Dennis was nervous about the trip in the beginning. He said he didn’t sleep at all the first night Cody was on the water.

“We prayed for that little guy,” Dennis said. “There was nothing that was going to stop him from doing it.”

The trip was slow-going at first, with only 15 miles on the first day, Wednesday, May 15, and 25 miles on the second day. But over the weekend Cody traveled about 90 miles of the 216-mile river.

On the first day, Cody’s kayak sprang a leak and started taking on water. He quickly patched it up and later received one of the most important donations of the trip: A new kayak from KL Industries of Muskegon. The company also made a $500 donation.

He had company for the long haul over the weekend. Jared Karnitz and Nate O’Neil joined him on the river on Saturday, stayed overnight then paddled again on Sunday. Both are Mona Shores High School students. Karnitz is a senior and O’Neil is a junior.

Ann Ledsworth, Cody’s mom, said O’Neil was interested in joining the trip because he also has a family member who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. She said many students at Mona Shores, which Cody’s siblings – Brooke, 18, and Chase, 15 – still attend, have donated money.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the support,” Ann said.

Cody graduated from Mona Shores in 2011 and now attends Western Michigan University.

Chase, 15, plans to have his own fundraiser in June when he longboards from Ludington to Bay City. He said he was inspired by his brother, Cody.

 

Source Date: May 22 2013
Source Publication: M Live
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