Colorado Guide Celebrates Life

July 7, 2014

Fowler Lemonade StandBy Ian Fowler

My story with HERA began nearly 30 years ago, before I had even heard of ovarian cancer. This was the day I first went rock climbing. It was a cold damp (I grew up in the UK) March day and I had the chance to rock climb. I stepped up, climbed halfway up a 5.4, and my hiking boot fell off. So I was lowered to the ground, re-tied my hiking boot and continued climbing up the 2 pitch route and then rapelled back to the ground. What does this have to do with HERA? This was the day I was hooked on climbing!

Fast forward 20 years to New Zealand. I was living in New Zealand starting a non-profit working with people with disabilities in the outdoors. My parents came to visit me and we had a great time hiking, travelling, and enjoying the beautiful New Zealand countryside. As we adventured my Mum commented frequently about feeling bloated and like she had gas. She also felt full really soon at meals. Looking back she had 3 of the key ovarian cancer symptoms; the only ones missing were urinary/bowel concerns and vaginal bleeding, and who chats about those things with their Mum. I left my parents to guide a 5 day sea kayaking trip in the Abel Tasman national park. I was jolted back from white sand beaches, kayaking with seals and clear blue seas by multiple voicemails from my Dad letting me know Mum was in hospital. My Mum had ovarian cancer! She had treatment and thankfully went into remission for 1 year when she was able to enjoy travel, hiking her family and my wedding. The ovarian cancer came back and, despite more treatment, she died on Thursday, July 13, 2006.

When I moved to Colorado I discovered HERA and it seemed like the perfect way to honor the memory of my Mum doing something I love to do. I’ve been one of the Colorado Mountain School guides at the Colorado climb for many years (often with the troublemakers/incredible fundraising team of the Denver Senders). This year I started my own team, called Friends & Family of Viv, in honor of my Mum. Since little people under the age of 6 don’t participate at the event, I put together a kids’ event the day before Climb4Life Colorado. Nine kids raised money through their daycares, schools, and neighborhoods. Our girls did a lemonade stand and a yard sale, selling some of their toys to raise money. Altogether, our kids raised $132.97, all of it in honor of Granny Viv. They brought their donation to the climb in a little plastic box, most of it in dimes, nickels and pennies, and they were so proud to be part of the event.

Join us for next year’s Climb4Life in Boulder, CO. It’s a great day of camaraderie, laughter, and fun. There’s always pro climbers hanging out and chatting. Who knows, you may get a belay from Tommy Caldwell!  Whether you climb for fun, or in honor of a loved one, join us for a day that celebrates life.

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