Dwayne Buckle is walking all the way from Red Deer to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island in memory of his aunt and cousin, who died of cancer. "I think of them every day. I miss them like crazy," says Buckle, who is raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society.  (Submitted photo)

Red Deer man trekking 1,172 km to honour family lost to cancer

“I’ll do anything I can to get a cure for this disease. If I had to walk to the moon, I would.”

Dwayne Buckle is walking from Red Deer, across the Rockies, through the Kootenays, into the Lower Mainland, and all the way up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy.

Buckle set out on foot from Red Deer on Oct. 21 – 1,172 kilometres away from his destination. He’s made it as far as Golden, B.C.

Some have called him foolish, but the 40-year-old’s motivation comes from two family members he lost to cancer, just five days apart.

His aunt and cousin stood by Buckle when he was younger, doing everything they could to help set him right.

“They went the distance for me and I didn’t realize how hard they were trying to fix my life,” he said.

As the snow is beginning to fall and a pandemic is raging, it doesn’t seem like an ideal time to start a trek. But that’s the point, Buckle said.

“Is it ever a good time to get cancer? My family didn’t get to choose the time either.”

He credits his grandfather, aunt and a cousin for where he is now. They believed in him and stood by him, he said. It just took a while for Buckle to recognize it.

They encouraged him to get a job, to get training, so he pursued a career in firefighting.

Days after he completed his certifications, his aunt died of cancer. Five days later, his cousin died.

“This is why I’m walking: for the people who didn’t give up on me. I think of them every day. I miss them like crazy. They may not have walked as far as I am, but they never gave up on me,” Buckle wrote on his Facebook page, Hike for the Cure 2020.

You can follow Buckle’s journey on Facebook, where he posts daily updates on his journey.

It took him seven days of walking to reach the B.C. boundary. After a few days of rest, he trekked on again to Golden.

Buckle trudges for at least 20 kilometres on a slow day, or as long as necessary to reach the next town. His current record is 87 kilometres in one day. He’s mostly sticking to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Next up is Rogers Pass, a dangerous crossing in the Selkirk Mountains east of Revelstoke. His friends don’t want him walking it alone, but he’s not willing to miss a single step, so they’ve arranged to act as a pace car, waiting for him after each snow tunnel.

Every night, they’ll leave a marker in the snow, drive to a place to rest, and come back the next day until he’s through the pass.

As personal as the journey is, Buckle also wants to raise money for cancer research. Donations can be directed to the Canadian Cancer Society.

“I wish there were things I could have done to help them,” he says of his family members.

”I’ll do anything I can to get a cure for this disease. If I had to walk to the moon, I would.”

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


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