Mississippi kayak challenge

Grace Alsancak, 22, who is canoeing the length of the world's fourth longest river, the Mississippi River for charity
Grace Alsancak, 22, who is canoeing the length of the world's fourth longest river, the Mississippi River for charity

An unlikely duo are paddling the length of the Mississippi River in a 60-day mission to raise £100,000 to make poorly children smile.

Halifax Rotarian and former police inspector Ken Robertshaw, 59, of Savile Park, and 22-year-old Rotary youth leadership awardee Grace Alsancak, of Elland, are kayaking 2,350-miles from the start of the American River at Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico.

Halifax Rotarian Ken Robertshaw who is canoeing the length of the world's fourth longest river, the Mississippi River for charity

Halifax Rotarian Ken Robertshaw who is canoeing the length of the world's fourth longest river, the Mississippi River for charity

Ken and Grace are now on the final leg of their journey.

The adventurers began their kayak challenge to complete the world’s fourth longest river on August 7 and it is expected they will be paddling for 60 days in an extraordianary fundraising effort for Theodora Children’s Trust charity which provide music and entertainment ‘giggle doctors’ on children’s hospital wards at Bradford Royal Infirmary and Leeds General Infirmary.

The two, who met through Rotary, have endured an electrical storm, battled through four feet high waves and have capsized.

Grace has recently climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Ken drove a dog sled team in the Artic.

Ken said: “The hardest part is not just the sheer physical effort but the feeling of isolation. At times Grace and I might as well be the only two people on the planet. The scenery is stunning, but as it never changes the impact soon wears off.”

Grace said: “This is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done, both physically and mentally. Each day is a challenge, we never know where we will stop or what we will find along the way, maps can only tell you so much.

“The highlight has been the people we have met along the way.

Ken’s wife Pauline and Grace’s boyfriend Phil will meet them in America at the end of their trip.

To donate text KRGA60 with the amount you wish to donate to 70070. Follow their progress at mississippichallenge.co.uk

Theodora Children’s Trust’s fundraising and communications manager, Jennifer Payne, said: “We are so grateful to Ken and Grace. Their commitment and determination is awe-inspiring. We hope people will dig deep and donate to show their support. 2350 miles is a long way to paddle but for every £10 raised a Giggle Doctor can visit another child. We are so grateful to the Rotary Club of Halifax for their continued support. It makes such a difference to lots of little ones.”

The Mississippi River was created in 1938 and runs through 110 counties and parishes.

It takes 90 days for a drop of water to travel the entire length of the river.

Ken and Grace hope to raise £100,000 for Theodora’s Children’s Trust.