Judy Ratcliffe had just attended the funeral of a teaching colleague who died of leukemia when she saw a Global TV item about a Vancouver-based organization called Kayak for a Cure.

When another teacher she knew died of cancer a few weeks later, she started thinking seriously about staging a Kayak for a Cure event in Whitehorse.

“Both these guys were my age, if not younger,” she recalls. “It just saddened me so much that I thought, ‘OK, we can do this.'”

After two more teaching acquaintances died shortly after, she approached her friends Tracy Pittman and Geana Hadley about organizing a fundraiser to help Yukon cancer patients and their families.

“By the spring it was, ‘OK girls, if you’ll help me, let’s get this going.’ And we did.”

At the territory’s first Kayak for a Cure last year, 17 paddlers raised almost $10,000. This year’s goal is to have 20 or more kayakers and canoeists match that amount.

Kayak for a Cure had its start in 2006 with two Vancouver brothers who wanted to honour the memory of their grandmother. The idea has since spread to other cities in Canada and the United States.

All the money raised at the June 19 paddle from Rotary Peace Park to the Takhini River bridge will go to help Yukon cancer patients defray extra costs incurred because of their illness.

Registration is $25 per participant, and paddlers are encouraged to try to raise at least $300 each in pledges.

“But we’re not going to send anybody away,” Ratcliffe stresses.

Following the river trip – which starts at 1 pm, with check-in at noon – there will be a barbecue at Robert Service Campground for paddlers and their families.

Up North Adventurers will provide kayaks rent-free, as well as return transportation for those who need it. Canoeists are welcome, but will have to provide their own craft.

To register, or to sponsor a paddler, go to www.kayakforacure.org