BUFFALO, NY — We have an amazing story of a Missouri woman, with a chronic disease, who's trying to break a Guinness World Record in kayaking. Her name is Traci Lynn Martin, and so far she's traveled thousands of miles through the Great Lakes.
On Friday, Martin stopped in Buffalo and shared her inspirational story with 2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval.
"Everyday I get up and I think can I do this? I'm going to go out today and maybe quit tomorrow and so far tomorrow has never come," Martin said.
Her story doesn't start with her, it starts with her mother, who last year was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"During the last few weeks of her life she had a lot of regrets about things that she always thought she had time to do and she never did," Martin said, "she told me if there's anything that I wanted to do anything in life that I felt strongly about to do it now."
Martin suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which she's on medication for. And, as an experienced kayaker, she set out to travel the Great Lakes, and break the world record for most miles paddled 3,822 — in a surf ski, which is similar to a kayak. Her journey began in March paddling lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron.
"You feel like you have this entire wilderness that God created all to yourself," she said.
Most nights, Martin has found shelter, from people who have heard her story through news reports.
"It's been a real blessing the number of people who have opened their homes," she said.
She's been active on her Facebook page giving updates on her journey and on Tuesday she hit Dunkirk.
"Its been two days of frustration and a lot of setbacks I was supposed to have paddled in here last night and the winds are blowing out of the north and the waves were just terrible," Martin said.
She has been battling her arthritis.
"I just felt really ill today and I had a horrible migraine took my medicine," Martin said.
And on Friday she hit the beach at Wilkeson Pointe, less than 200 miles from breaking the record.
"I want to try be a role model to people with chronic illnesses I want you to be able to get up and do things you still love," Martin said.
And it's not just Martin out there, she has a team of helpers on the ground, tracking her by GPS so they know where she is. On Friday, Martin paddled just shy of Niagara Falls, in order to stay on track, she needs to carry her boat around the falls on Saturday, and get back in the water near Lewiston. Then, continue around Lake Ontario and back to Detroit. After all this, she plans to return to her job as a registered nurse in Kansas City. And she says can't wait to return home to her family.