It is rare to have an opportunity to combine a personal passion with something critical to the future of your family. Over the past year, I was fortunate to combine my passion for mountain climbing with a global effort to raise awareness and money for Alzheimer’s research.
The Road Back to Mount Everest: Memories Are Everything was a yearlong journey that included climbing on five of the world’s highest mountains plus a series of public events and mailings to raise money exclusively for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund.
It was an amazing year. I love the mountains and enjoyed each climb, but it will always be the thoughtfulness and caring of so many people that touched me deeply. Students from four grade schools across the United States held fund-raisers and donated almost $8,000 altogether. More simply gave from their hearts. I was contacted by hundreds of people telling me their special stories of parents, grandparents or friends who have been touched by this horrible disease. A survey on my website showed almost 70 percent of the respondents had contact with Alzheimer’s. The epidemic is real and the impact is staggering.
My journey spanned 12 months, five huge climbs, hundreds of e-mails, hundreds of calls and almost 20 million hits on my website. I raised enough money to fund serious research at Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. And I established more awareness of what this devastating disease does to caregivers, family members and the Alzheimer’s patients themselves. What it is doing to my mom, Ida.
In terms of my adventures, I sometimes laugh that I have had three serious talks with myself standing at 27,300 feet on the side of a mountain. Should I go up? Should I go down? Some water? Go faster? Go slower? If only…
No, I didn’t summit Everest—for the third time. Yes, I got to about the same spot. Yes, it was tough to turn around. Yes, it is hard.
And it was wonderful.
What a ride. What a gift. What a life.
Thanks to all my supporters and the staff, board and researchers at Cure Alzheimer’s Fund. Together we are making a difference.