Buckley’s owner to paddle 80 km, raising money for charity in celebration of his 80th birthday

In celebration of his upcoming 80th birthday, Buckley’s Mountainside Canoes co-founder John Buckley will attempt to paddle 80 kilometers, or 49.7 miles, of the Chippewa River.

Inspired by retired Army Captain Tom Moore, who pledged to raise money for charity by walking around his garden 100 times in honor of his 100th birthday, Buckley intends to do the same. All proceeds from the challenge are being donated to Friends of Isabella Seniors, a branch of the Isabella County Commission on Aging (ICCA).

Buckley collaborated with Buckley’s Mountainside Canoe co-owners Liz and Bob Busch, along with longtime friend Diane Cislar, to gather resources and connect with ICCA.

Although Buckley’s birthday is July 2, the 80 for 80 challenge will be taking place on May 12. Friends and family of Buckley and his wife Donna have already made pledges for every lap that he makes, and there are several local businesses who are donating to the cause as well. One friend of the Buckleys made a unique pledge over the phone.

“These people want to pledge an amount for each bridge I go under, each time, if I’ll sing a verse of ‘Old Man River’ when I do it,” says Buckley.

On the day of the challenge, Buckley will be starting his laps from the Buckley’s store location on Remus Road and ending at Meridian Road — normally a four-and-a-half-hour trip. Buckley says he hopes to finish each lap in two and a half hours.
Photo Courtesy of Liz Busch.
There will be a lunch break from 11 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Meridian Road, where Maxon’s Blue Country Barbecue will be offering food for purchase, and 80 for 80 t-shirts will be available for sale. In addition, 95.3 CFX will be on-site to broadcast the event.

Those who are unable to attend can keep up with Buckley’s progress on social media at facebook.com/buckleyscanoe. Anyone interested in donating can contact Liz Busch at liz@buckleyscanoe.com.

Read more articles by Riley Connell.

Riley Connell is a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in journalism and minoring in broadcast and cinematic arts. She has written for CMU's student-run publication Grand Central Magazine for two years and is now the editor-in-chief. After obtaining her degree, Riley would like to become a full-time feature writer. In her free time, Riley enjoys listening to music, trying new food, and collecting vintage clothing. She grew up in Metro Detroit and currently resides in Mt. Pleasant.