Its not easy climbing Mount Rainier. Just getting there is a pain so reaching base camp is a feat in itself. But you still have to climb the mountain.
Thats 14,410 feet straight up. Cragged rocks, sheer rock faces, rock slides. Umm, lets just say its no walk in the park.
No, its not easy climbing Mount Rainier, but thats just what Donna Brown did. Its not a challenge that everyone would undertake, but Donna Brown, in association with the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) made it a challenge to raise awareness and funding for tinnitus research and, climbing Mount Rainier, sounded a lot more interesting than organizing a bake sale.
Meet Donna Brown
Donna Brown is a remarkable human being. Shes experienced tinnitus for more than 10 years. Symptoms appeared a couple of months after Donna had surgery but she cant say for sure theres a correlation between the two.
However, what she can do is describe the sensation she experiences, and here, shes quite emphatic understandably.
For me its a whistling tea kettle sound blaring in both ears and a loud hum in my right ear. Do I need to say more? Indeed not. Oh, and now imagine experiencing that sensation 24/7/365.
For many who experience tinnitus, just plain walking is painful. Imagine climbing a 14,500-foot high mountain with deep fog, rainy, damp and cold weather and a rugged, dangerous, straight uphill route. And you just gotta love Donna Browns attitude. When told by her doctors that there was nothing that could be done about her tinnitus, Donna replied I dont think so! Its that grit and determination that has kept Donna going and going hard for the past decade.
An avid hiker, last year, working on her own, Donna organized the logistics of the climb and made sure each step up the trail generated the maximum dollar return for her efforts. Tagged Expedition Hopeful, the trek set two lofty goals: to raise $85,000 for tinnitus research and to navigate the eight-mile ascent safely.
This year, Donna joined forces with the American Tinnitus Association for Expedition Hopeful Cure 2, which set a very ambitious goal of raising almost double what Donna had achieved on her own a whopping $150,000 for tinnitus research.
And so, the trek up to the top of Mount Rainier, located in the Cascade Range, began on July 13 of this year. The climb was arduous but the spirits of the climbers were high and progress was quick.
Donna, in a recent interview, described just how widespread the problem of tinnitus is. "There are 50 million people in the USA alone with this problem. Ten to 12 million are so severely disabled they can hardly put one foot in front of the other. That's how I plan to make it to the summit of Rainier: one step at a time, carrying and sharing their hopes for an eventual cure all the way up to the top!"
The climb, this year, was anything but tranquil. The expedition met with fierce winds, a cold, dense cloud cover and a steep climb. But fighting the elements, the dedicated team, lead by Donna Brown, finally reached the summit at 7:00 AM, July 15, 2007. That wasnt a surprise, knowing the tenacity of this dedicated climber and her team of supporters
The pleasant surprise came when Donna and the ATA learned that an anonymous donor had matched, dollar for dollar, every contribution over $100. The result? This years Expedition Hopeful Cure 2 raised just over $300,000 all of it directed at tinnitus research.
We all experience tinnitus ringing in the ears from time to time. Head or ear trauma is a cause, disease and the natural process of aging can all initiate or exacerbate tinnitus. Thats part of the problem. The symptoms are clear. Diagnosis is pretty straightforward but the causes of tinnitus remain elusive with many theories under study.
It is efforts like Donna Browns and the American Tinnitus Association that are fighting to find a cause and cure. Keep an eye out next summer for expedition Hopeful Cure 3. Does anyone doubt that a person of Donna Browns character and dedication will pull it off?
We sure dont.
For more information on tinnitus and Donna Browns efforts, visit the American Tinnitus Associations website: www.ata.org.