KALISPELL – A disabled Marine Corps veteran from Kalispell plans on floating 1,120 miles of the Mississippi River to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Robert Sistok was 17-years-old when he entered the Marine Corp but he says a savage beating cut his career short and left him disabled.
“I spent almost 13-weeks in three different military hospitals and then it took me about a year to learn how to walk straight again,” said Robert Sistok. But Sistok says his life would never be the same.
Nearly 40 years later, seizures and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder debilitate Sistok and cause him to isolate himself away from others but lately he’s finding relief.
“I have finally quit taking all the stuff the V.A. has been giving me for years which wasn’t helping the seizures anyway. But it was adversely affecting my life. I quit everything cold turkey and suddenly I woke up feeling like I had ankle weight taken off my legs.”
Sistok is now determined to lift up children suffering from cancer and will do so by stretching his sea legs. He and two other veterans — who coin themselves Dude’s For St. Jude’s — will float the Mississippi River in July raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Sistok told MTN News that the goal is to raise $100,000.
“I could sit home and have seizures at home in my bedroom by myself or I can be out on the river doing something wonderful. How many chances does a man get in his life to truly in a wonderful way affect so many families and help so many people, if you get one chance you better go for it,” Sistok said.
Sistok has had local businesses pledge donations and help with supplies and he says he got a $10,000 corporate donation pledge from Loews.
Reporting by Nicole Miller for MTN News