Cancer survivor kayaks Mississippi to raise funds

On Day Eight of a journey from Itasca to New Orleans, kayakers Dan Anderson, left, and Brock Wood portaged around the dam in Little Falls, June 24. The two have a fundraising goal of more than $100,000 for Lymphoma research, after Wood beat Hodgkins Lymphoma in March.
On Day Eight of a journey from Itasca to New Orleans, kayakers Dan Anderson, left, and Brock Wood portaged around the dam in Little Falls, June 24. The two have a fundraising goal of more than $100,000 for Lymphoma research, after Wood beat Hodgkins Lymphoma in March.


Alexandria native beat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma


Full of energy and enthusiasm after finding out this spring that he is cancer-free, Alexandria resident Brock Wood moved forward with a plan to kayak the entire length of the Mississippi River.

“A year ago, I planned to do a trip like this and had found a backer,” Wood said. “The backer said, ‘Now you need a cause for the trip.’ Then I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”

Wood graduated from Jefferson High School in 2012 and started at Martin Luther College in New Ulm that fall. In a matter of weeks, he had dropped out, putting college on the back burner.

While elk hunting with his dad, an uncle and a cousin in Colorado in October 2012, standing about a quarter mile away from his dad, Wood first experienced numbness on his left side. The numbness rapidly escalated into screaming attacks of pain.

“It felt like a heart attack,” he said. “Then I found out it was Hodgkin’s.”

Within a couple of days, Wood came to terms with the diagnosis, he said. “I decided that it didn’t matter if I was going to live a week, a month, a year or whatever — I would live for God. I would continue in my strong faith,” Wood said.

He later found out that the pain he experienced that day could not be explained. The doctors told him it had nothing to do with his cancer. But if not for the pain, he would not have ended up at a hospital having the CT scan that revealed his cancer.

Wood is the youngest of five siblings, and had never been sick.

“I don’t even have glasses,” he said.

He started chemo at the Mayo Clinic in November, followed by radiation. He was declared cancer-free at the end of March.

Wood had enrolled at Martin Luther with the intention of doing mission work, but discovered it wasn’t the right time. “This trip is my mission right now,” he said.

One day the name “Paddle 4 Kins” just came to him for the purpose of the trip.

Wood’s goal is to film short video segments each day of himself reading a Bible verse, with his pastor at Calvary Lutheran in Glenwood, Brian Koschnitzke, talking for a few minutes about the verse.

“We try to film as often as we can,” said Wood. “We are hoping it will grow to nationwide coverage, with people waking up in the morning wanting to see the latest video.”

Wood’s partner the day they portaged in Little Falls, June 24, was high school friend Dan Anderson. The two had trained together, so Anderson was ready and able to step in when needed.

Wood had started out with one friend, who had to drop out after an injury. Wood’s brother then stepped in for a day.

Anderson is in now for the duration of the trip, with the exception of one week when there is a family event to attend. Another of Wood’s brothers will travel with him during that time.

Anderson himself has some close associations with cancer, as his dad had colon cancer and his grandma had lung cancer.

“I look down at my shirt (which says ‘Paddle 4 Kins’) and I realize that it’s more than just me,” Anderson said.

There have been some challenges at the beginning of the journey.

“The biggest challenge so far has been being out of my comfort zone camping out every night,” Wood said. “I didn’t consider the amount of energy it takes every day.”

Living every day of their adventure to the fullest, Wood and Anderson have a lot of fun meeting new people and seeing different places.”

“We’re a couple of jokesters,” Anderson said.

“We’re hoping this gets really big, with donations above and beyond $100,000,” Wood said. “Every single day I wake up, I’m excited and ready to go.”

Donations to assist Wood in purchasing supplies for his journey and to raise funds for the Lymphoma Research Foundation may be made online at or by check, made out to Paddle 4 Kins and sent to Bell State Bank and Trust, Paddle 4 Kins, 1011 Broadway St., Alexandria, MN 56308. Those interested may also visit