Hundreds of people lined the shore of the Prince Rupert waterfront as Dayna McKay completed her 52 kilometer swim from Port Simpson to Prince Rupert on Thursday night after swimming for about 19 hours straight.
There was chanting, drumming and singing as McKay and her escort of boats neared Prince Rupert’s shore at about 10:30. People held signs, waved, and cheered her on, and she waved back. It took four people to pluck the exhausted McKay from the water and back on to dry land where she was greeted with the complete adulation of the crowd.
McKay’s swim was called “Into the Sea Cancer Free,” and was the culmination of her fundraising efforts to help fight cancer, an illness that has touched the lives of many in her community. The money raised will be split between the Richard Wesley Foundation and the BC Cancer Foundation.
The inspiration for the swim came from McKay’s uncle, Billy Sampson, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009. Mckay isn’t the only one who has a loved one with cancer, many people in her small village community do.
McKay had her swim coincide with National Aboriginal Day, and throughout the afternoon at the celebrations at the Prince Rupert waterfront, Aboriginal leaders, elders, politicians and regular people said how proud they were of her and how they admired her mission. They weren’t the only ones.
Back home in Port Simpson the whole community was keeping track of her progress through out the day via CB Radio.
Some of McKay’s fundraising efforts have included soliciting corporate sponsorships to selling 50/50 tickets, holding rummage sales and a loonie auction. There is also a 6-hour swim challenge to be held at the pool in Port Simpson where McKay trained for her endurance swim.