On June 22, Rich Stearns embarked on a 333-mile sailing adventure. Starting in Chicago, his sailing boat, J/88 Hokey Smokes, guided him through the waters of Lake Michigan to Lake Huron to his final destination, Mackinac Island.
He made the bucket-list trip by himself.
As a sailing boat enthusiast, Stearns is no stranger to the allure of the water. He has been racing sailboats since 1962 and has been selling sailboats through his company, Stearns Boating, LCC, for nearly two decades. But this time the trip was personal.
“After a bout with prostate cancer, I thought it might help survivors to see someone doing crazy things, and show them that prostate cancer is not the end of the world,” he said. “So, I decided to undertake the challenge to raise money for prostate cancer awareness and information.”
Stearns trip was part of the 22nd Great Lakes Singlehanded Society’s Chicago to Mackinac Island Challenge. The solo challenge is considered one of the toughest sailing challenges on the Great Lakes, taking between 50 to 80 hours to complete with temperatures averaging 40 to 50 degrees at night.
Stearns completed the challenge in 70 hours, placed first in his class and fifth overall, and raised more than $10,000 for prostate cancer supportive services at the University of Chicago Medicine’s Section of Urology under the direction of Arieh Shalhav, MD.
Two years ago, Stearns was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was referred to UChicago Medicine by a fellow sailor.
For him, it’s important that others know the options available if they or a loved one are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“This sailing event raised money so others will be able to get the knowledge they need if it happens to them,” he said. “Cancer is not something that always happens to someone else.”
Join Stearns, his family, and fellow sailors by donating to his prostate cancer awareness fund.