As of April 29, he has walked 516 km and Rance Cardinal is not stopping until he makes it to Humboldt.
Cardinal was at the April 7 Winnipeg Jets game that paid tribute to those involved in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
Cardinal was trying to be funny when he made his sign about wanting to be on television. After he heard about the accident, it was not funny anymore, he said.
Hearing about the crash, Cardinal said it was like a shockwave of pain that went through his body and he is sure his uncle that was accompanying him felt the same way.
He changed his sign to Humboldt Strong.
People were giving him high fives and he even made it on the Jumbotron. When you make it on the Jumbotron, you get really excited, he says.
After the game, Rance said he needed to get the sign to Humboldt.
“From that game until April 11, I probably got only 5 hours of sleep. Just thinking, talking about it, thinking, and finally I was like, I have to take action.”
He left on April 11 starting from Sioux Lookout, Ont. and made it to Winnipeg on April 24 where he will take a rest until May 1.
Cardinal is losing his voice as people honk and wave. He cheers as if he has scored a goal, he says.
Cardinal’s walk goes beyond just the sign.
“Humboldt Strong can mean so many things. It’s a time of healing for the town and myself.”
In 2013 at 19 years old, Cardinal lost his 17-year-old brother. He was playing in the junior hockey league and hockey was a big part of their lives. He also lost a close friend of his shortly after.
That was the turning point for him and his life started to go downhill, he says.
The Humboldt Broncos accident brought everything back, says Cardinal.
“What I’m trying to get out of this is my inner peace, my strength, and honour...by the time I get to Humboldt, I’m going to find myself and I’m going to be the Rance Cardinal when I had my brother.”
The first thing Cardinal plans on doing upon getting to Humboldt is head for the Elgar Petersen Arena. That is where the energy is, he says.
Next he wants to get to know Humboldt.
“When I get there, we’re going to start the healing process. I know it’s started from the Sioux Lookout but as my late brother would always say to me after even losing a hockey game: ‘you know what man, we’ll bounce back.’ We always did.”
Cardinal has had plenty of support along the way, with many family members, including his uncle, grandma, auntie, and niece walking with him at some points in time.
One day, Cardinal even had a firefighter in full gear walk with him a part of the way. There was not a dull moment walking with him, laughs Cardinal.
“Just the whole time he was walking with me, we were just laughing and getting to know each other. Stuff like that really drives you to get you to your goal.”
While Cardinal says he does not know when he will make it into Humboldt, Meagan Ward is heading the committee to welcome him to Humboldt.
Ward was blown away by Cardinal’s selflessness of what he is doing and the support he is offering.
“I thought it would be incredibly appropriate that once he got here, we did something for him that isn’t over the top but something special.”
Plans are still tentative but Ward says they want to get local schools, various organizations, and any interested individuals involved.
As it stands, people are encouraged to meet Cardinal at the caboose at the Humboldt Campgrounds and walk with him through the city on the way to the arena.
Whatever comes of their planning, Ward says they want everyone to make Humboldt loud and colourful for Cardinal’s arrival.