ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In 2018, Mike Shoreman was a professional athlete with ambitions to take over the paddle boarding scene. That was during the same time he was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome.
On Sunday morning, Shoreman pulled away from the Port of Rochester Marina on his attempt to become the first person with mental and physical disabilities to paddleboard from the U.S. to Canada.
Ramsey Hunt Syndrome is a neurological condition and a side-effect of shingles. When Shoreman was struck with the disease, his ability to balance was massively hindered; just like the potential of his paddle boarding career.
Following a battle with suicide and an extended period of repetitive rehab exercise that involved the combination of minimal standing and kneeling, Shoreman re-discovered his paddleboard balance and said “yes I can.”
Today, he is paddle boarding more than 85 miles from the Port of Rochester Marina to Toronto, Canada across Lake Ontario in a mission to raise physical and mental health awareness for youth.
“Mike Shoreman`s Paddle Across American was born out of necessity to bring people together and support those who are struggling,” Shoreman said in a statement. “My personal goal is that it unites people and demonstrates hope. Financially, I wish to raise funds to help those in a wide range of communities from coast to coast.”
The record-breaking feat will also directly benefit the the Tyler Clementi Foundation and The Trevor Project.
In his professional career, Shoreman became the first ever LGBTQ+ person to win the International Stand Up Paddle Boarding Man of the Year. He feels responsible to represent his community, just like those impacted by mental health.
“I looked at mental health organizations across the United States who were LGBTQ+ focused,” Shoreman said. “In my eyes, there is no charity better than Kenneth Cole`s The Mental Health Coalition helping Americans with mental health across the United States.”
His story touched the hearts of many who have battled with physical disease. Shoreman, nicknamed ‘the unbalanced paddleboarder,’ won the nation’s largest inspiration speaking competitions and is the author of “The Diaries of The Unbalanced Paddleboarder: Crash and RISE: From Victim to Thriving Survivor.”
Thousands of likeminded paddleboarders who support the ‘Paddle Across America’ joined Shoreman on Sunday as he began his journey to Toronto, Canada.