A major undertaking by a west suburban man bringing attention to one of the most aggressive forms of childhood cancer. Jake Beckley is planning a 65 mile solo rowing adventure across Lake Michigan in his own homemade boat.
The magnitude matches the meaning behind Jake’s quest – to raise money and awareness for neuroblastoma - the most aggressive and one of the most underfunded childhood cancers. Never touched by childhood cancer himself, Jake has long helped raise funds for families at Lurie Childrens Hospital.
“Seeing the families, seeing what they’re going through and hearing their stories, it really hits you and it really digs deep,” he says.
So he is hitting the deep water of Lake Michigan and going after the source of their struggles by supporting Lurie’s lab for cancer research.
“100% of everything raised goes directly to the lab,” Jake says. “So there’s no commissions and no fees going into anything.”
Jake built the boat himself, a feat he researched for months but went into admittedly with very little knowledge.
“I’m not a builder. I’m a developer a technologist a marketer. I’m behind a computer all day,” he says.
In the last year, the self-professed desk jockey lost about 100 pounds and completed a 36 mile climb in the Sierra Nevadas also for cancer research. He’s spent the last 75 days working with a trainer and completely overhauling his diet, all while working on the boat and doing his day job.
“It’s been exhausting for a long period of time and as I get closer to the actual date, I will do much more aggressive and intentional sleep deprivation just to be able to get myself accustomed to getting to 20-30 hours of no sleep and still functioning,” he says.
Jake plans to leave the Michigan side of the lake September 30th. By then his boat will be fully stocked with supplies, and electronics to keep him on course and – weather permitting - gliding into Chicago 100 kilometers and 24-hours later.
There are concerning challenges on the open water, but nothing Jake says compared to what families face dealing with neuroblastoma every day.
“During the course of that row there will be two kids with neuroblastoma that won’t make it,” he says. “That’s a really hard statistic.”
* UPDATE: Beckley delayed his trip until October 3 due to "dangerous and unpredictable conditions," he said in a statement