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Using Triumph Fitness to Climb to New Heights!

Over the years, we have had graduates of Triumph Fitness ask us about how they could help our organization as a way to say thank you for the benefits they received through Triumph. We thought long and hard about what might be a powerful way for these alumni to not only give back, but pay it forward, while also helping them to maintain a fitness regimen. This year we finally rolled out our Team Triumph grassroots fundraising campaign, which wraps all of these goals into one package. Through our Crowdrise website we are now able to create new event campaigns related to Team Triumph that occur throughout the year. We are encouraging our alumni to stay involved while staying fit by participating with us in Team Triumph events. On the horizon is our participation in the Urban Cow as a team on October 5th. But in September, we have a really special team assembled to climb Mt. Saint Helens.

At one of last Fall’s Triumph Fitness graduation classes, new graduate Crystal Kekai Rowland shared with us her intent to climb Mt. Saint Helens in 2015 as a fundraiser for Triumph. Her story sparked interest with Board Member and Triumph Fitness Graduate Paula Plesha, and she soon started training with Crystal. Now a team of 10 is set to scale this magnificent peak on September 11th in support of the Triumph Cancer Foundation. On this day which holds such sacred meaning to Americans, I find it to be a fitting tribute that this amazing group of people will join together in solidarity to climb this peak so that they can help other cancer survivors rise above their cancer diagnoses. I hope that some of you will consider supporting the efforts of our team through a donation to one of the team members, or their general fund through this link: Triumph to the Summit

Why did Crystal choose Mt. Saint Helens for this meaningful climb? I thought it would be best to share her story, in her own words…

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2013. I completed 16 weeks of chemotherapy, had 2 surgeries and then radiation. This time last year, I could not climb the stairs to my Doctor’s office without feeling weak and getting winded. One month ago, I summited Mt. Shasta. Triumph Fitness helped me feel strong and capable after feeling so incapable and discouraged. To “pay it forward” and raise money for future participants, we have organized Triumph to the Summit.

The idea for this fundraiser came during the last session of my Triumph Fitness class in December 2014. Pam Whitehead, the Founder, told us about ways to stay involved with the Triumph Cancer Foundation, and I wanted to! Triumph has a cycling team and a 5k training team. I most emphatically am NOT a runner, and I don’t own a bike, but I love to climb, so I thought ‘why not a mountaineering team?’

First and foremost, I wanted to give back to the organization that helped me regain my footing, but also to give people who have never had the experience of summiting a mountain an opportunity to train for an achievable goal. Things somehow look differently once you have trained for and summited a mountain and I believe the experience trickles into other areas of your life in a positive way. On a steep face at high elevation, sometimes you can only get in 8 steps before you have to stop and breathe and it’s this constant pacing and perseverance that allows you to reach the summit.

As we all know, Mt. St. Helens is an active volcano that was devastated by a series of eruptions that began in 1980. Before the blast, it was forested, lush, and sheltered diverse wildlife. You need only look at pictures of the blast zone to see the scars and the devastation. It has taken decades, but the mountain is renewing itself.

We chose Mt. St. Helens for symbolic reasons but also because 7 of our 10 team mates have never summited a mountain and it is not a technical mountain when climbed during the summer. I feel honored to visit this mountain. Although it is not the tallest among its Cascade neighbors (Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood or Mt. Rainier), it stands as a sentinel and a reminder of the renewal that can take place after devastation.

We will be climbing Mt. St. Helens on Friday September 11, 2015. At 8,363 feet, we anticipate it will take the group 8-9 hours round trip. We have been training as a team for the climb and have a slow and steady pace. I hope for the climbers, it will be a meaningful experience. I also hope that people will support our efforts and help us raise funds so that others can experience Triumph Fitness and recapture their lives after cancer!”

To Crystal, Paula, and the rest of the team, we wish you the very best in your pursuit of the summit!

We will be posting photos of the Triumph to the Summit adventure shortly after Summit Day. And you are interested in participating in a team climb in 2016, send us an email at info@triumphfound.org.

– Pam Whitehead, Executive Director

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