Skating cross-country for cancer cure

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Photo: www.DontStopBelieving.ca

Daniel Cloutier roller skating across Canada to raise funds for a cure for Cancer passed through Qu├ębec City this past week.

Dan Cloutier, 21, of Winnipeg, lost an uncle three years ago to a rare form of cancer. This summer, he decided to do something big to fight the deadly disease.

Inspired in part by former National Hockey League player Sheldon Kennedy, who donned inline skates for a cross-Canada journey to raise money and awareness for victims of sexual abuse, Cloutier strapped on his own rollerblades in Vancouver in May to help fight cancer.

Accompanied by his girlfriend, Chantal Courcelles, Cloutier has been skating practially every day, four to five hours a day, his final destination Halifax later this month. Courcelles father ccompanied them from Ottawa to Halifax. A friend took part in the voyage from Vancouver to Winnipeg, where they stopped off for a barbecue.

They will meet their parents in Moncton before completing the journey by car. Cloutier and his father will rollerblade the rest of the way. Thus far, the trip has helped raise about $25,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society toward a goal of $100,000.

Supporters can donate directly the Canadian Cancer Society or through the website www.DontStopBelieving.ca.
Tuesday morning, the two, accompanied by a Silverado hitched to a trailer, they were departing Grand Falls, New Brunswick.

"We're looking at 17 more days to get to Halifax," said Cloutier, who is a student with Courcelles at College Universitaire de St. Boniface in Manitoba.

"When he first told me, I was a little shocked," said Courcelles, who has provided moral support and frequent massages to Cloutier's sore legs. "I guess I am kind of the co-pilot."

"The first three weeks were pretty difficult," Cloutier said. "Thank God Chantal was there to massage my legs."
Sore calves were not the trip"s only obstacle, nor were they the first.

"The first task was to plan this whole thing," Cloutier said, "and with our busy schedules, it was difficult to find the time."

To complete the trip, they needed the truck and trailer.

The truck was donated by a nationwide auto dealer, the trailer by another firm. Using Google maps to find camp grounds along the route, when they aren't staying with friends along the route, they set off in May.

"The whole thing was pretty special," Cloutier said. "The mountains were hard, but I'd never been in the Rockies before. When we went down Niagara Falls and Ontario, the traffic was brutal. Southern Ontario was just brutal."

But there are rewards.

"There's a lot of people on the highway, waving, honking," Courcelles said. "Most of the response has been pretty positive."

Despite blisters and assorted aches and pains, Cloutier said, "You just keep going."