East Texan's Snowy Trek: 4,000 Miles Of Adventure

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This past week's East Texas snowfall has nothing on Pete Pattullo.


All he was missing last Friday morning when several inches of snow blanketed the Longview area was his snowmobile. Pattullo plans to fix that this past Monday when he straddles the saddle of one for the trip of a lifetime.


The Longview businessman and founder of NetworkIP, a Longview-based technology company, plans to embark on what he expects to be one of the great adventures of his life-a 4,000 mile snowmobile trip from Michigan to Alaska.


The trip billed as MichCanSka 2010 will include about 70 other people on snowmobiles along with a support team. The trip is a benefit for diabetes research with funds going to the Diabetes Research Institute, he said.


Pattullo, 49, said he has had a thirst for adventure since his childhood days in Michigan. Besides gaining snowmobile experience early in life, he has done off-shore racing and traveled extensively.


"My dad raced professionally, and my mom is a breast cancer survivor who came out of that experience with a sense of adventure herself," he said. Both parents, now in their 70s, have made long snowmobile trips and plan to be on the 20-day odyssey.


"They're giving the trip to each other for their 50th wedding anniversary," he said. Pattullo and his brother also have taken snowmobile rides of more than 2,000 miles.


Pattullo has lived and worked in East Texas for the past 13 years and Texas for more than 25 years.


Riders from across the country will be coming together this past weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to put the final touches on their plans. MichCanSka 2010 participants are scheduled to end their journey 20 days later in Tok, Alaska.


"We'll be covering over 4,000 miles of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world," Pattullo said.




Benefiting a cause


"Although this trip will be a great adventure and experience for all those involved, we want to remind everyone that a significant cause is benefiting," he said. The Diabetes Research Institute is a world-recognized research facility on the campuses of the University of Miami and University of Alberta-Edmonton, Canada.


Pattullo has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. His wife also has diabetes, so helping provide funds for researchers to find a cure has a special place in his heart.


He said great strides have been made by researchers to defeat the potentially deadly disease.


"Through the MichCanSka 2010 event, we hope to raise awareness and the necessary funds to help them reach their goals," Pattullo said. The group hopes to raise between $70,000 and $100,000 through the event this year.


"This event could ultimately help millions of people in the United States and around the world who live with diabetes," he said, if it becomes an annual trip. Pattullo said he and each of the other participants are paying for their own expenses so all the funds and pledges will go toward diabetes research.




Coordinating safety


The trip has been more than a year in the planning. Besides participating, Pattullo is serving as the trip's safety coordinator.


"We're not planning to spend any nights in the bush along the way," he said. "But just in case something happens, we have to be prepared to handle a worse-case scenario."


Pattullo said that worse case would be having to survive 72 hours in the bush in minus 40-degree temperatures.


"We've done everything we can think of to de-risk the trip," Pattullo said. "Almost all of the participants will have satellite transponders with them."


That will allow communication along most of the trip, he said. Individual pages on the event's Website, www.michcanska.com, have been dedicated to informing friends, family members, students, sponsors and supporters about the status of the trip.


Pattullo's group will be "Group 1" with a Website link on the right side of the site's home page.


"We encouraging people to look for daily updates from the trail and ride along," he said. He also said anyone wanting to make a contribution to diabetes research also can do that online.




Educational aspect


Among those people pledging to help raise those funds are several hundred Hallsville fourth-graders.


"I put together a program for the entire fourth grade to follow the trip and use it as method to teach real world math and geography problems," he said. Pattullo has made other presentations to Longview area school groups in the past.


"I find fourth-graders are at the perfect age to take this all in," he said. "They're just learning how big the world really is and have a real thirst for learning-they are really captivated with all this type of thing."


The Pattullos have two teenage daughters who attend Hallsville ISD. On Tuesday, Pattullo addressed an assembly of about 350 Hallsville fourth-graders who will be following the MichCanSka 2010 through modern technology.


During the trip, Pattullo plans to pose a daily math question to the students. In turn, through technology, the students will be able to communicate with Pattullo and ask questions about his adventure.


The students also are being encouraged to donate a dime a day to the event.


Pattullo said MichCanSka 2010 is the dream of Michigan resident Bill Bradfield. In October 2008, Bradfield announced an idea he had been mulling over for a couple of years.


That idea snowballed and attracted the interest of just about everyone in the Michigan snowmobiling community, and Pattullo through his family contacts.




At a glance

- What: The 2010 MichCanSka-a 4,000 mile snowmobile trip

- When: Planned to last 20 days and starts on Monday (Feb. 15)

- Where: The trip is scheduled to start in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and end in Tok, Alaska-which bills itself as "The Coldest Inhabited Community in North America."

- Why: To raise funds for diabetes research through donations to the Diabetes Research Institute

- More information: www.michcanska.com

- The itinerary: The trip starts in northern Michigan and travels though parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota before entering Canada and travelling along the Trans Canada Trail through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory; the final leg will cross into Alaska and stop at Tok, Alaska.

- Geographical highlights: The Trans Canada Trail, along with the Yukon Territory, and the original gold rush mining town of Dawson City, all are on the agenda. The grand finale will take riders across the Top of the World Highway to Alaska.

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