In the end—as they all warmly hugged each other, unabashed tears trickling down joyful faces and dripping into the hardened ice on the summit—it wasn’t about the numbers.
It wasn’t about the hundreds of hours they spent training over much of the year; it certainly wasn’t about the 12,276 feet they climbed to reach the top of Washington’s Mount Adams during a gorgeous summer weekend.
It was, in the end, about them—co-workers sharing a life-changing experience. It was also about one of their own, a breast cancer survivor who climbed every step of the way; and it was about doing something for their communities by raising more than $100,000 for the Hutchinson Center’s breast cancer research.
When they reached the top of Mount Adams, they celebrated, not only as colleagues but as friends.
“It was more than just climbing a mountain,” said Ryan Dahle, who last year suggested a climb to his colleagues at Lydig Construction, a Bellevue, Wash., company. A climb, he said, suited the company’s wellness program quite well.
“We have done relay events in the past, but this time, I really wanted us to do something big. I’m a climber, so one day, I googled ‘climb’ and ‘charity,’ and the Hutchinson Center and the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer® came up. It was perfect for us, and they were celebrating their 15th year of climbing.”
So off to his wellness program colleagues he went seeking support. Lydig prides itself on its team environment and community involvement. Through the years, they have participated in many fundraising events for many organizations.
At first, Dahle talked just a handful of co-workers into joining the Climb—it is, after all, quite a challenge to take on one of the Northwest’s tallest peaks—but soon after word got around, nearly two dozen colleagues signed up, including company president Gus Gottschalk.
“From the first of the year, we started training. It was hard work, but worth it,” Gottschalk said. “It was a phenomenal team-building effort, even for those who were not involved in the climb.”
One of the climbers is a breast cancer survivor, so colleagues quickly understood the importance of breast cancer research conducted at the Hutchinson Center, he said.
“What surprised me and a few others in the company is how much money we raised. It was really something, and it spoke highly about how much our people cared about this,” Gottschalk said.
Gottschalk has climbed some big peaks in the past, but none matched the experience of Mount Adams. “When everybody reached the top, there was a lot of emotion, a lot of tears and hugs,” he said. “It was extremely rewarding for all of us. It gave us an opportunity to give something back to others.”
The glow of doing something together continues to pay off. “We have created a greater bond and lasting friendships,” Dahle said.
“We have always been known as a company that cares about people, cares about family. The Climb to Fight Breast Cancer has taken us to another level. I don’t think any one of us is ever going to forget this experience.”