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We’ve Come a Long Way – Join the Journey this Summer

April 22, 2013
Climbing up majestic Mount Rainier, photo by Don Kenyon

Climbing up majestic Mount Rainier, photo by Don Kenyon

Over the past 16 summers, more than 1000 climbers have built mountains for breast cancer research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, one boot track at a time.

These participants are teachers, service professionals, lawyers, students, CEOs, media personalities, accountants and health care specialists. Pretty much, you name it, and your profession has climbed. One of my favorite climbers last summer was a nursing student from Pennsylvania.  He signed up to climb Mt. Rainier, having never seen it.  He hadn’t traveled west of the Mississippi River. The first time he saw the Pacific Northwest mountains were when he flew over them on the way to meet his teammates.  He went on to summit Mt. Rainier last July and raised more than $5,000 for life-saving research.

When I climbed my first peak in 2002, I’d skied down mountains but never climbed up one.  It didn’t occur to me to try until a survivor friend suggested I’d enjoy fundraising for the Hutch.  She was right, I did enjoy it.  I was stunned, although not surprised, at the generosity of my friends and colleagues. They’ve been back as donors annually and many have joined me on training hikes, long walks, and a few, on summits.

The Climb to Fight Breast Cancer is a journey, never a sprint.  Sometimes a participant will contemplate a climb for years before committing. Others will see Mt. Hood on a sunny day and sign up that afternoon.  One participant, a teacher from California, saw an ad in Outside Magazine.  She pinned it to her cabinet as a “bucket list” dream.  Three years later, when she was a survivor herself, she signed up to climb Mt. Baker. She touched the summit that August.

We’ve come a long way over 16 years and thousands of miles.  Join the adventure this summer.

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