An Alumni Spotlight by Michelle Murphy

It is the perfect summer morning for canoe ride. As dawn breaks over still forest, you gently glide into the glassy water and begin a 10 mile journey down the river. By noon, the sun is blistering and you return to land tired, hungry and thirsty. But what if stopping was not an option.  Would you have what it takes to continue for another 2,290 miles?

ICollege of Business alumni, Aaron Drendle ’09, and friend, Jake Mullins, took their passion for canoeing and transformed it into a fundraiser to help fight breast cancer by co-founded the non-profit organization, Canoe for the Cure. The organization’s mission was to raise money for brest cancer research by canoeing 2,300 miles down the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, MN to the Gulf of Mexico.

“My mother is a three year survivor of breast cancer, and Jake had people close to him with the disease. We thought the experience would be an adventure of a lifetime,” said Drendle.

Together, the determined duo raised more than $6,500 for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization.

Drendle and Mullins had to battle a number of elements during their grueling 52 day trek.

“The physical grind of paddling 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, in every kind of weather and water conditions was a challenge.  However, the biggest challenge was the mental stress of the trip, especially in the south where there was traffic from massive ships and no towns where we could stop. We fought poison ivy, sunburn, mosquitoes and 100 degree temperatures for three weeks,” said Drendle.

Others took note of their honorable trek and donated more than $5,000 in equipment, including a 20 ft canoe. Their inspiring story has been featured on a variety of internet, newspaper, radio and TV outlets around the country.

For more information about Aaron’s amazing journey, or to donate to Canoe for the Cure, visit his blog at