Lori Sheppard started off her 45th birthday with an early morning swim in Lake Superior. It was the beginning of an all-day event for the Blenheim, Ontario-resident, who took a dip in all five of the Great Lakes that day.
Joined by her daughter and two nieces, Sheppard embarked on the nearly 2000-kilometre journey to honour her two older brothers on Monday. Both of the men were diagnosed with lupus at young ages and both died of the incurable auto-immune disease in the past year.
“As we celebrate a day that marks years of life and good health, we will try to do a little good for those who struggle daily with health issues,” she wrote on her Go Fund Me page.
Sheppard set a goal to raise $2,000, which she planned to split between Lupus Ontario and the Huntington Society of Canada, since she has another relative that’s been affected by Huntington disease. By the time she embarked on the journey, however, she had more than doubled her goal.
After her and the rest of the girls’ 6:30 a.m. dip in Lake Superior, the group travelled across Mackinac Island to Lake Michigan, stopping only briefly along the way to change in and out of swimwear. Next, they hit Lake Erie followed by Lake Ontario.
Both of Sheppard’s brothers enjoyed spending time in Grand Bend, along the shores of Lake Huron, so that’s where Sheppard decided to wrap up their trip.
“It just seemed like a natural choice,” she told the Chatham Daily News, and more than 15 hours after their swim in Lake Superior, they walked into Lake Huron.
The girls captured each swim in separate videos, where they shared fun facts about the lake they were entering, alongside information about lupus and Huntington disease.
To learn more about their journey, or to support their cause, you can check out Lakes for Lupus on Facebook.