Winnipeg, MB Local 867 member Chad Swayze is getting ready to embark on an experience of a lifetime. On April 3, he’ll leave to climb Mount Everest.
While the climb may check off a big item on his bucket list, personal accomplishment is not his primary motivation. Swayze hopes to raise at least $50,000 to benefit the Never Alone Foundation, a charitable organization that works to ensure that cancer patients and their families do not have to experience the challenges of cancer treatment alone.
But, he won’t be doing it alone. His fellow fire fighters, family and friends will not only be donating to this important cause, but they’ll also be cheering him on.
“We are extremely proud of Chad and all of us in Winnipeg support him100 percent. I know his fellow Local 867 members and his extended IAFF family will be following every day of his trip,” says IAFF Canadian Trustee and Local 867 President Alex Forrest.
Swayze, a 17-year veteran fire fighter, sits on the board of directors of the foundation and has seen up close the good that the foundation does for cancer patients.
“Unlike many other cancer charities, the foundation does not do research. It helps those without adequate insurance pay for treatment, provides transportation to and from appointments and other assistance,” says Swayze. “Small comforts mean a lot and help patients feel like they are not alone.”
Swayze’s interest in mountain climbing is traced back to when he was 15 years old and enrolled in an outdoor survival course. “The course motivated me to test my limits more and see how well I could withstand the harsher elements,” he says.
He started making climbs near his home in 1997 and continued to challenge himself until he was ready to tackle Mount Kilimanjaro in the East African country of Tanzania, which is the highest mountain on the continent of Africa.
Measuring 19,341 feet high, the mountain certainly has its challenges. Climbing this high, everyone can expect to experience some altitude sickness until the body becomes adjusted to the difference in atmospheric pressure.
But Swayze’s most difficult climb to date was in 2016 when he climbed Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. During the hike, there was a snowstorm and several of the climbers in Swayze’s group did not bring adequate equipment for the weather conditions.
“One climber felt like he could no longer go on, so he went into a cave and collapsed. The rest of us carried him down the mountain,” says Swayze. “He made it out alive, thankfully.”
Swayze believes the endurance he has built in his 17 years as a fire fighter and his previous experience as a climber has adequately prepared him for the challenge of climbing Mount Everest.
“It is not just the physical demands of fire fighting that build up your endurance, but also doing the job in various weather conditions,” says Swayze.
Climbing Mount Everest will take two months. Just to get to the base camp will take Swayze and his group 15 days to hike. Then, to help the body adjust to the climate and the altitude, the group will hike to the first summit to transport equipment, hike back down to base camp and then hike back up.
“I anticipate the hardest part will be the final summit. It is 100 feet of vertical rock,” says Swayze.
Swayze has already raised more than $4,200 for the Never Alone Foundation and hopes to reach his goal of $50,000 by the end of his climb.
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