2010-02-17 / Front Page

4,000 miles on snowmobiles!

Local men ride for diabetes research

Duane Kursinsky of Sandusky (left) and Vern Dumaw of Deckerville are participating in a 4,000 snowmobile ride to Alaska to raise money for diabetes research. Photo by Carol Seifferlein Duane Kursinsky of Sandusky (left) and Vern Dumaw of Deckerville are participating in a 4,000 snowmobile ride to Alaska to raise money for diabetes research. Photo by Carol Seifferlein Two local men are participating in a 4,000 miles long snowmobile ride through Canada and Alaska to benefit diabetes research.

Duane Kursinsky of Sandusky and Vern Dumaw of Deckerville, both 61, will be traveling with a group from Caro. The charity ride was scheduled to kick off Feb. 15 at Sault Ste. Marie and end 20 days later in Tok, Alaska.

Kurinsky will be riding a snowmobile while Dumaw will be driving a pickup truck pulling one of the snowmobile trailers.

"It will be a very challenging ride because of the distance and where we are heading to," said Kursinsky, owner of the Sandusky Dairy Queen Grill & Chill. "It is certainly for a good cause."

"I am an avid snowmobiler and when I saw this trip come up, I thought I really want to do that."

Although Kursinsky rode to Alaska last June on his motorcycle, he's never been on such a long snowmobile trip.

"It will be the adventure of a lifetime," said Dumaw. The local farmer will get to ride a snowmobile part of the way. His truck will be carrying the riders' luggage in the truck, and will load up the snowmobiles if they run out of snow for a while or have a breakdown. The trailer will also be used to haul the machines back after the ride.

There will be 72 riders and the Sanilac County men will be part of the six-personTeam Pattullo.

George and Betty Pattullo of Caro are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by going on the trip to raise money for a diabetes cure. The couple grew up in Sanilac County and moved to Tuscola after they were married, according to cousin Harley Pattullo of Deckerville.

“I wanted to give Betty something that is unique for our anniversary,” said George Pattullo, noting this kind of trip has been a dream of his for years.

Bill Bradfield of Cadillac, who contracted diabetes due to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, had the idea of a snowmobile trip to Alaska to raise funds for diabetes research and help spread awareness of the disease. He has been planning the trip for the past three years.

The trip starts at Sault Ste. Marie, travels through Wisconsin and North Dakota, through Canada, crosses the frozen tundra of the Yukon Territory and on into Alaska across the Top of the World Highway.

Kursinsky and Dumaw said their longest snowmobile trip up till now was from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to North Dakota and back.

"Part of it will be along roads. The longest day -320 miles -will all be right on the road in the Yukon," stated Dumaw. Much of the route will be on trails and two-track roads.

The groups will encounter some dangerous situations. Temperatures will be double digits below zero; also, there is a possibility of white-outs, avalanches and long stretches between civilization.

The group will have heated handlebars on their machines, heated shields on helmets, and extra dark helmet shields because of the bright snow. As part of the safety precautions, each rider carries a thermal sleeping bag and a tent that are rated for subzero temperatures. They are also to carry a supply of water and enough food for 72 hours in case of an emergency, as well as First- Aid kits, a utility knife, orange safety flags on each machine, rope and a snow-claw shovel. Plus, a four-wheel chase vehicle is assigned to each snowmobile group.

Dumaw said the riders are leaving in three groups a couple days apart because some of the motels in Canada can't accommodate such a large group. Then at their final overnight stop, the first groups will wait so they can all arrive in Tok together.

The 72 riders come from diverse backgrounds and ages. Two of the riders are 82. The average age is 59.

You can get an updates, as well as watch the groups’ progress, at the web site www.michcanska.com.

Each person pays for his own expenses, and is expected to raise at least $1,000 in donations. The Diabetes Research Institute is a nationally recognized research facility at the campus of the University of Miami.

To support the trek make your check payable to the Diabetes Research Institute on line through www.michcanska. com or mail it to MichCanSka at 6131 W. 48 Rd. Cadillac, MI 49601. (by Carol Seifferlein, features editor,

& Mary Drier, Tuscola County Advertiser)

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