Michigan couple kayaks Mississippi River for charity

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GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. -- A West Michigan couple took to the water, looking to provide clean water for thousands of others. Gary and Linda De Kock kayaked the entire length of the Mississippi River.

"He suggested that we ride our bikes from Chicago to New Orleans, and I didn't think that was a good idea," said Linda De Kock. "So without thinking I said, 'Well, why don't we paddle instead?' Then I head myself saying and I thought, 'Oh, no.'"

By the end, Linda wanted to savor it: "We came up to mile marker zero, and I wanted to slow down," Linda said. "Gary is paddling, and I'm almost ready to paddle backwards because I want it to slow down and figure out what it means."

The De Kocks spent 70 days kayaking down the Mississippi River. The journey took them more than 2,000 miles down one of America's main waterways. But this was more than a journey downstream. The De Kocks raised $16,500 for Water for People.

"I think Water for People is a tremendous organization," Gary De Kock said. "It can do a lot with just a few resources."

The charity provides clean water and sanitation for nine countries around the world. The couple, who also celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary on the river, only wanted to raise $11,000, but the trip got them much more attention.

"This allows us some credibility to go to people, to go to companies, and ask them to assist, and ask them to get involved, and so we hope to be able to do that," Gary said.

Although this journey is over for the retired couple, they say their journey to change the world has only just begun.

As for what's next, the De Kocks say they want to continue to help provide clean water for people.

If you'd like to donate to Water for People, click here.

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