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Boat Captain Embarking on 'Great Loop Challenge' to Raise $1 Million for Cancer Research

Captain Red Flowers will embark on the Great Loop this June to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Flowers, a stage 4 cancer survivor himself, was inspired by children undergoing cancer treatment at the Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida while undergoing the same treatment himself.

Now the captain will undergo one of boating's most arduous journeys to raise $1 million for the center. The effort is being guided by The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation (NPCF) -- a nonprofit dedicated to funding research and clinical trials to find less toxic, more effective treatments for childhood cancer.

His journey is called The Great Loop Challenge. The 'Loop' itself is a 6000 mile trip circuitous route around the eastern half of North America. Boaters can start at any point along the route, and head in either direction, but it involves navigating through the Great Lakes, the Illinois River, the Mississippi River, the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and the Eastern Seaboard. Travelers pass through 15 different U.S. states and Canadian provinces along the way.

It is estimated that about 150 boaters start the Great Loop each year although less than 10% ever complete the trip. The route is challenging even for seasoned boaters and encompasses every possible scenario and skillset -- freshwater, saltwater, lakes, rivers, oceans, lock systems, international borders, different climates, and different weather patterns.

Flowers' boat is being supplied by Canyon Bay Boats, who will also auction the boat off upon completion of the trip to raise additional funds for cancer research.

Flowers has said his intention is to complete the Great Loop in record time. Most 'Loopers' who complete the circuitous journey around the eastern half of North America do so in about 10-16 months. The average completion time is about 12 months. In 2022, a man completed 'The Loop' in a pontoon boat in just 34 days, although it was done in segments over the course of four years. Another man attempted the Loop in a PWC that same summer. Flowers will attempt to complete the Loop in about the same amount of time, albeit in a single passage and without breaks.

The veteran boat captain is set to depart on June 15th, 2024, with an estimated completion date of July 15th, which would easily put him into the record books.

Canyon Bay Boats, who are based out of Perry, Florida, primarily build customizable offshore center console fishing boats between 18 and 28 feet. Flowers' 28H model single engine boat means he will be built for speed and efficiency and without the creature comforts that many Loopers enjoy with a cruiser or similar vessel.

Thanks to an initial grass-roots effort from donors and sponsors, the Great Loop Challenge has already raised over 10% ($100,000+) towards their overall goal of $1 million.

Other sponsors for the journey include Power Pole, Tocaro Blue PROTEUS 3D Navigation, FGCI, Seaspension, Battery Tender, Seaview, Starlink, Gemlux, and Ezell Fuel Tanks.

Those looking to make a donation can even sponsor portions of the trip, from one mile to 10 miles, or choose from a suite of sponsorship packages.

You can follow along with Captain Flowers' journey on Facebook and Instagram.

Boaters can also make a donation directly to support Captain Flowers on his trip.

Check out Red's message to his followers in the video below:

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