BOSSIER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Shawn Puffer of Bossier Parish is spending his summer in one of the most unique ways possible. He's paddling 2,300 miles down the Mississippi River.
"The wildlife is tremendous, fantastic," said Shawn after spending just over 3 weeks on the river that is about as wide as a ditch at it's farthest northern point, some 60 miles from the Canadian border in Minnesota.
"I was touching both sides of the bank at some points," explains Shawn.
He says he's dreamed of paddling the entire stretch of the Mississippi for years but says 'life' kept getting in the way.
Then this past January, he was battling another issue with his life, all together.
"They gave me the bad news," recalls Shawn, the moment a doctor revealed results of a number of cardiac tests.
"I had a serious blockage going on and I would need a triple bypass."
But just months after a successful surgery, Shawn was already putting his brand new kayak into the water of the Mississippi.
"The last thing I can say is 'I love you and be safe'," says Shawn's girlfriend Carrie Morgan who drove him all the way to Lake Itasca, Minnesota.
Carrie pointed out how fortunate they are that life's events originally kept forcing Shawn to postpone the trip.
"Had he done this last year, he would have died," said Morgan. "He would have died on that water."
Been even just months removed from major heart surgery, Shawn was determined to carry out his long-time challenge traveling the Mississippi.
"One of the first things that came to mind, even while I was on the table in the cath lab, this river trip is going to be stolen from me once more," said Shawn.
Now with a recondition plumbing to his heart, Shawn has decided living life is more important than allowing his busy life to continue to get in his way. So he quit his job and dedicated the next 80 to 90 days to paddle the river.
And with the help of Simple Church's Justin Haigler, Shawn discovered how important it is to make your dreams more about serving others than yourself.
"If you're going to go for something, there may be a personal reason, something driving you to do that. But a God-sized dream involves helping others," Shawn said.
Shawn has chosen to raise money to help install water wells in Honduras on an upcoming Simple Church mission trip.
"I wholeheartedly believe God stepped in and rearranged his schedule," explained Carrie.
Click here to follow Shawn's travels through GPS.
Click here to read about Shawn's travels on his blog.
Click here to donate to the Honduras mission trip.
Editor's note: The Good Stuff airs every Monday night on KSLA News 12 at 10.