All charitable efforts face great challenges in reaching their goals, whether that goal is purely financial or to rid the world of a problem or disease that is troubling our society. Often these challenges are referred to in metaphorical terms, such as ‘hurdles’ or ‘mountains’. Ralph Cochrane has turned these metaphors on their heads in creating ‘climbing expeditions to raise money for MS research’. Ralph’s MS Climb project has been inspired by his own mother’s fight with MS and, as a climber, his realization that the altitude sickness symptoms he has experienced on expeditions are in fact very similar to MS.
Don Goodale’s sister Cathy Goodale, along with Goodale Miller Team member Michelle Epstein, recently found inspiration to participate in an MS Climb close to home. Cathy and Don’s sister Karen has long-suffered with MS, and Cathy’s daughter was diagnosed early this year. Upon being introduced to Ralph Cochrane’s MS Climb project by a friend, Cathy didn’t hesitate or start small. For her very first climb she summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, in October of 2009 – less than a year after committing herself to get involved. She began training by hiking throughout the Bruce Trail “Orangeville, Smokey Hollow, anywhere we could go. Eventually we worked from a few hours, up to 8 or 10 hour hikes, by the end of it, in full gear with all the weight. And then I’d do my running, outside of that, also. Basically, that’s how we prepared physically for it. You can’t prepare or train for high altitude. That was just something we’d have to deal with when we got to the mountain.” Taking part in that initial climb, Cathy had committed to another challenge: To raise $10k toward Ralph Cochrane’s 5-year Million-dollar goal. She raised $20,000! Since then she has more than doubled this initial contribution to both the Halton and Edmonton chapters of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada.
This year an MS Climb pilot project was introduced, offering a weekend hiking/camping option, on the Bruce Trail in Tobermory, for those wanting to participate locally. Michelle Epstein said, “I’ve admired all the people who do the big climbs, but never thought it would be anything that I’d be able to take on. Then an email came through saying there was going to be one locally, with a more manageable minimum fundraising commitment of $1,000, and I just signed up. It just felt right, and it was an awesome experience and I’ll definitely do it again next year!” She began her training in a similar manor to Cathy’s and soon met hikers and climbers who had also been touched by the cause. “I learned that everyday, 3 people in Canada hear the words ‘You’ve got MS’. That was pretty shocking. So it felt good to do something to help those people out.”
If you’re inspired reading this, but wondering if you can do it, Cathy and Michelle recommend you don’t overthink it, and simply sign up. In other words, just do it. It’s amazing how everything falls into place once you commit.
Visit http://msclimb.ca for more info on recent climbs and upcoming events.