CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS/CBS NEWSPATH) – A Kansas City nurse hopes to set a new speed record by paddling the entire length of the Mississippi River.
Traci Lynn Martin plans to complete the task in under 45 days. The last woman to paddle the river from the source in Northern Minnesota to the end in the Gulf of Mexico did it in 61 days.
"My message really is to show people what's possible,” Martin said. Her goal to paddle the Mississippi River is about more than setting a record, it is also about raising awareness for chronic pain.
"I was diagnosed with scleroderma this year. So, there both autoimmune diseases. People with autoimmune diseases, people with chronic pain in general they tend to stop living their life,” she said.
Marv Kuziel, Martin’s number one motivator and ground crew, said, "She will get the Guinness record for solo female on the Mississippi. She won't give up until she does."
He said Martin wakes up in pain daily but fights to keep moving. "Our typical morning is it takes three hours to get her up and going. There's a lot of people that follow her because of that,” Kuziel said.
Martin said if she can get up everyday and paddle for hours with chronic pain you can keep doing what you love.
"The bottom line is you're gonna hurt. You can sit in bed or you can sit in your chair in your living room and feel depressed and hurt or you can get outside and do the things that you love. And if you do the things that you love you are still gonna hurt, but mentally you'll just feel better. And if you feel better mentally, it gives you a better quality of life,” she said.
Martin left Grand Tower on June 6. She plans to complete the journey by arriving at mile marker zero in the Gulf of Mexico on the Fourth of July.