In July, ten intrepid people (eight of which are women) from all parts of Canada will make their way to Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Their goal: reach the top (obviously!) all while raising money for the Heart Institute’s Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre. A courageous endeavour for a heartfelt cause!
The climbing team consists of a registered kinesiologist, two personal trainers, a yoga instructor and black-belt holder, marathon runners, and an ex competitive-level speed skater. Of these, five are second-year Masters students in Physical Therapy from McGill University.
Climbers are eager to make the climb for two reasons: For one, the masters students are working on their final project pertaining to the prevalence of musculo-skeletal injury in Kilimanjaro porters. While working with researchers at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College in Moshi, the masters students hope to identify areas of porter health or health care that may need improvement. Second, the group felt it was fitting to also help those at home; hence why they chose the Heart Institute and particularly, the Women’s Heart Health Centre.
“We have climbers from all parts of Canada,” says Jennifer Daly-Cyr who is making the trek with her daughter Janelle Cyr. “Heart health has affected each of the climbers in a different capacity whether it be a personal heart health problem or a family member. We will be counting on our healthy hearts to help us make the big push to Kilimanjaro. Well-known to the local community and nationally renowned, the logical Canadian choice for our support is the innovative Heart Institute.”
This isn’t Jennifer’s first trip. She climbed the Tanzanian mountain back in 2009. She also went to the Mount Everest base camp with her daughter and family friend Dr. Pierre Bedard, a retired heart surgeon and now surgical assistant at the Heart Institute. The base camp is similar in elevation to Kilimanjaro and a great initiation to the climb they will make this summer. All of these trips, Jennifer claims, strengthened her commitment to maintaining a healthy active lifestyle.
Jennifer’s daughter Janelle says the Heart Institute will always have a place in her heart. Both of her grandparents have undergone procedures at the Institute. She was pleased and impressed to hear that they were happy with the care they received. But her commitment to this trip is heavily influenced by Dr. Bedard.
“I have tremendous respect for the work done at the Heart Institute, but also tremendous respect for its employees and the care they provide,” says Janelle. “Dr. Pierre Bedard speaks very highly about the Heart Institute and, in fact, still works there every week because he loves it so much. I think knowing that an employee loved their place of work so much that they keep going back even after they no longer have to displays the highest compliment that you could hear about a hospital. This only adds to my excitement to contribute to a place that gives people their lives back every day.”
The climbers will be blogging in the coming months about their preparation for the trip. The mountaineers will attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in nine days between June 23 and July 1. Fear not, the team will be accompanied by a professional guiding company.