STAMFORD, Conn. -- Stamford resident Alicia O'Neill has one new year's resolution: to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
She said she's thought about taking on the Tanzanian mountain since she read an article about it some 30 years ago. But it wasn't until someone came to her as the head of new events at the Norwalk-based Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) with the idea of climbing the mountain with a patient and a patient team that she decided to do it. In fact, she said yes right away, committing to the idea on the spot.
Now there are 15 people taking on the challenge including myeloma patients, a myeloma doctor and others who are climbing in honor of a patient or someone that they have lost. The team effort, dubbed "Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma" is slated for the climb on Saturday, Jan. 16.
O'Neill is not a hiker -- she's only camped once in her life-- but she is an athlete, having run 10 marathons, five of them for the MMRF Team for Cures over the years. She's also done a Ragnar Relay and the Empire State Building Run Up.
"Now it's time for something different," said O'Neill who's been training for six months.
It is a six-day climb up and two days down but she said she and her team feel prepared. They will be bringing a banner to the top with the names of hundreds of cancer patients. She is, after all, doing it for all the patients she has known and carried in her heart.
"Over my eight years working with the MMRF, I've come to know many patients and patient families personally," she added. "There is something very special about taking on a physical challenge and doing it for something bigger than yourself. They will all be with me in spirit when I reach the top."
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