Canoeists stop in Natchez to promote suicide prevention
Published 12:05 am Wednesday, July 29, 2015
NATCHEZ — Fifty-five days ago, Lance Loney and Corey Smock set out to canoe the entire Mississippi river.
On Tuesday, about 1,900 miles in, the two friends from Decorah, Iowa, made a pit stop in Natchez.
Natchez plays host to those travelling the river regularly, but not every one of those travelers boasts a worthy cause.
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Loney and Smock are making this trip to earn money for suicide prevention, a cause that hit close to home for Smock.
“My cousin committed suicide two or so years ago,” Smock said. “It’s just kind of a shocker.”
The two said they just wanted to raise money for awareness, and started with a goal of $10,000.
They exceeded that goal and now have $13,411 to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“We just thought $10,000 was a good goal,” Smock said. “We are going for $15,000 now. We might as well keep going.”
It hasn’t been easy sailing for the friends as they made their way down the river.
Mosquitoes, high waters and pesky tent cots have made the trip difficult.
“Your mental toughness is definitely tested,” Loney said.
Despite the troubles, Smock said the kindness of river city citizens has made it worthwhile.
“(The trip) has restored my faith in humanity,” Smock said. “Everyone has been so nice and so many people we don’t know have been helping us out.”
One such kind soul includes Vicksburg Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Bill Seratt, who met the travelers Sunday.
Seratt met the two briefly during their time in Vicksburg and set up food and lodging for the two in Natchez through some contacts in town.
“I think it is absolutely remarkable that they have the guts and the determination to take on ‘the old man’ for such a worth cause,” Seratt said.
Loney said he and Smock have alternated between camping on sandbars to finding lodging in various towns throughout their trip.
They’ve made stops in Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis, Greenville and various other cities, saying Greenville may be their favorite stop so far.
During that particular pit stop, Loney and Smock were introduced to Peter Nimrod who taught them different facts about the river that they have been seeing as they travel south.
They spend about 10 hours a day on the river and are currently averaging about 60 miles a day, carrying rations the whole way.
“We keep four to five days worth of food in the canoe,” Loney said. “And in this heat, we figured out we can keep about four days worth of water, so about 12 gallons.”
Loney said they hope to finish up in about eight days. Smock’s father will be picking the two up in New Orleans on Aug. 8.
To follow their progress, “like” their Facebook page ‘Paddle for Prevention’. You can also find a link to donate to their cause on the page.