In 2018 I started hiking in Acadia National Park. I was overweight and out of shape so with a max elevation of about 1500ft, it was the perfect place to start. By the end of that first summer, I was hooked. I decided to dust off an old goal I had shelved back in high school. By the following summer, I wanted to be able to climb Maine’s highest peak, Mt Katahdin.
I knew the less weight I had to haul up there, the better off I’d be. So, in September of 2019, about 50 pounds less of me stood at the Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It was one of the best days of my life.
A couple of weeks later, I read a news story on social media about a 6-year-old boy in need of a kidney transplant. I said, “That’s my blood type, why not?!” Not only were we a match, but it turns out I have amazing kidneys! Our July 21, 2020 surgery was a great success.
Six weeks after surgery, I was cleared to carry a small daypack and I hit the trails again. I have summited Katahdin a total of five times now. Last summer I completed a Presidential Traverse which includes Mt Washington, the highest mountain in the northeast. I’m currently at 25/67 4000 footers in New England.
When I received the invitation to apply for the One Kidney Climb of Kilimanjaro, I didn’t give it a second thought. If I got accepted, I would know it was meant to be. In two weeks, I’ll fly halfway around the world to bring my story full circle. If it weren’t for my love of the mountains, I never would have been healthy enough to donate a kidney.
More information about living kidney donation and Kidney Donor Athletes can be found at kidneyregistry.org and kidneydonorathlete.org.