journey to the summit
Here's her story:
Nine years ago, my mother got lost driving to my house as she had done many times before. It had taken her way longer than normal to reach my house, so I called her. She answered my call confused and in a panic. I guided her in taking deep breaths to calm down so she could tell me where she was. She was 2 miles away and couldn’t remember how to find my house. As I raced to get her, I had a thousand questions in my head along with utter confusion. I later learned that she had experienced a ’vascular episode’, which eventually resulted in a diagnosis of combined Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
When she was diagnosed, my two sisters and I began to realize that she had been displaying early-onset symptoms for a while.
Not long after the incident, this life-changing, incurable brain disease started rapidly deteriorating her brain. She started hallucinating and became self-destructive. We made the difficult decision to move Mom to an assisted living facility, then later to a nursing home. Three years after her devastating diagnosis, while running in the 2016 Chicago Marathon, I received the call that my mother passed. It’s too late for my mom, but I want this disease to stop affecting other people’s lives.
When my mother was diagnosed, we knew very little about Alzheimer’s, but after learning more, I was appalled to learn of the lack of funding that goes into dementia research. I’m delighted to have been able to run the 2016 Chicago Marathon to raise money to help Alzheimer’s Research and I am very excited to continue the fight to end this disease. Alzheimer’s is destroying our families and I want to continue doing something about it.
In February 2023, shortly after I finish writing my memoir, I am embarking on a plight of climbing to the highest peak in Africa to raise more awareness about Alzheimer’s. My personal goal is to raise $10,000 by the time I complete the 7-day hike through the Machame trek on February 9, 2023.
This hike will consist of a slow daily climb for six or seven hours. Each day, as we go up to higher elevations, we will experience five climate changes; a cultivation climate on the first day and then into the rain forest. From there, a dead shrubbery climate area, and then the fourth one called the Alpine Desert where it looks like you are on the moon! The last climate is the Arctic Summit. As I write this, there’s a chance of snow and it’s 32 degrees. I will hit all five of those climate changes in a short time, so I need to be prepared to go from a climate of wearing shorts, to one of needing to wear multiple layers of clothing by summit day.
I have never done anything this extreme in the same week. However, over a thirteen year period, I’ve run 30 marathons and multitudinous other distances, including a 50 kilometer, or 31+ mile ultra marathon “hike” in Indiana. I have been training since October 1st, climbing 3200+ stairs 4 days a week, taking 2 long runs per week (10 miles), walking on the treadmill at its highest incline, and P90X Plyometrics and Core Strength training. You can train physically and get prepared, but you can’t train for the high altitude sickness that comes along with the actual climb.
Kilimanjaro is the largest volcano ever to break the earth’s crust – that’s 5,895 meters, or three and a half miles high to be precise. As it’s classed as a high altitude summit, complex physiological changes take place in the body once above 2,500m because the air becomes thinner producing less oxygen. When we breathe, our intake of oxygen is less and so our body has to work much harder to get oxygen to its essential organs. To put this into context, there is half the amount of oxygen at the summit of Kilimanjaro than at sea level, so this hike is going to be quite the challenge.
I have conquered metaphorical mountains in my lifetime, now the moment has come for me to attempt to scale the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. This journey is for a purpose bigger than me. Getting to the top will be a success that I can add to my memories, memories that my mother won’t be a part of because hers were deteriorated before Dementia took her life and our matriarch from us.
Please offer your prayers to help inspire me to reach the summit: Uhuru Peak, and support my mission by making a donation. I am grateful to all who will make the choice to sponsor me; friends, family and strangers alike. No amount is too small.
You can follow my blog to stay connected throughout my journey to the top: https://www.faciallyskinbar.com/blog
I'll be sharing the video link to bring my friends and family along on the journey!
If you would like to make a donation, please click below!