Most big adventures are something you dream about for years and work hard to make happen. This is not one of those. I had never even thought about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. But occasionally something comes along and the pieces fall quickly into place if you allow them to; if you don’t resist the undeniable pull.
My good friend and colleague and two-time cancer survivor Wendy Chioji is part of the LIVESTRONG 2014 Survivor Summit, a group of cancer survivors and relatives of cancer survivors who are climbing the world’s highest free-standing mountain to make a statement about hope, inspiration and possibility.
Since Wendy now lives in Park City, Utah and another friend, Dr. Robert Masson has a second home in Park City, I arranged for the two to meet a few months ago and they hit it off. So much so that Robert immediately signed up for the Survivor Summit to celebrate his sister Callie who is a kidney cancer survivor and to honor his stepmother and father both of whom lost their battle to cancer.
Robert thought the trip was worthy of Growing Bolder’s attention and called to tell me that there was one spot left and that he had recommended to LIVESTRONG that I be allowed to tag along to document this inspirational and highly symbolic quest. LIVESTRONG contacted me and gave me 48 hours to take the final spot.
I had plenty of reasons not to go and they all conspired to make it seem like a bad idea. Our business is busier than ever and at a very critical stage in our development. Could I afford to be away for 2 weeks? Did I have enough time to get in the kind of physical shape required to reach the summit? At just under 20,000 feet, Kilimanjaro is nearly 5,000 feet higher that Mt. Rainier and is the 4th highest of the famous 7 summits. Could I avoid the acute altitude sickness that keeps many from summiting? Could I justify the expense of the nearly endless list of high tech clothing, supplies and equipment required to hike from tropical conditions at the base to arctic conditions at the summit?
Time was running out and my many doubts were beginning to win out when my GB colleagues stepped in and assured me they would pick up any additional work created by my absence. Katy, Jackie and Bess, all successful bloggers who know how to get the attention of national brands, offered to help find corporate sponsors who could underwrite some of the expenses or provide donations of hiking and climbing equipment in exchange for local and national exposure on the TV shows we would produce about the trip.
And then I received an email from Pat, our Director of Technology that read, “I understand you’re making some decisions over the next few hours. My opinion: do it. I collected about 32 reasons.” Pat included a link to a web page that he had created specifically to make a point. The page contained 32 of the motivational graphics that I make for our Facebook page. Graphics like this one and the others below. He hit me with our daily mission, with the message that we work so hard to share with others. He hit me with my own words.
I’m joining the LIVESTRONG Survivor Summit in February to make a 6-day assault on Mt. Kilimanjaro. In a Growing Bolder moment, I said yes. Yes to the adventure. Yes to celebrating 2-time cancer survivor Wendy Chioji and all that she means to me and to Growing Bolder. Yes to supporting my friend Dr. Robert Masson and his show of support for his sister Callie. Yes to the other survivors who are climbing to make a statement about the power of belief and the importance of teamwork. Yes to helping spread the word about the amazing work being done every day by the LIVESTRONG Foundation.
If you would like to support Wendy and Robert’s inspired efforts, please visit their LIVESTRONG Survivor Summit pages and make a donation.
If you would like to support our TV broadcast production of this great adventure and be recognized it for it, please contact Katy Widrick, our Executive Producer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.