Meet the 2016 Climb Against the Odds Team
This inspiring team of women and men have taken on the challenge of climbing Northern California's 14,179-foot Mt. Shasta for breast cancer prevention. Each climber honors their own or their loved ones' experience with cancer. Together, they prove that anything is possible if taken one step at a time. Learn more about Climb Against the Odds and read about the team's journey on our blog.
Clayton Bradford—Marysville, CA
Clayton dedicates his climb to the men and women that cannot climb for themselves. As a representative from Klean Kanteen, a longtime supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund, Clayton shares the belief that we must reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment. Clayton grew up in Chico and has done some rock climbing and backpacking but this will be his first time climbing a mountain.
Shalonda Gerdes—Shasta CA
Shalonda is motivated to climb by a desire to be a part of something bigger than herself, something that will help others. She strives to set an example for her children that it is possible to help others in need even in the face of one’s own adversity. She joins the climb despite her own ongoing health issues. She climbs for her mother and friends who are cancer survivors and a close friend who she lost to cancer. Shalonda is the Shasta community climber and lives an active outdoor life with her family, skiing, hiking, biking and swimming.
Ulrike Koehne—Mill Valley, CA
Ulrike joined Climb Against the Odds in honor of a friend and fellow moms who have suffered from cancer and a brother she lost to Leukemia. She climbs to commemorate a milestone birthday but more importantly, to support the Breast Cancer Fund. She believes that while the search for the cure continues we can turn our efforts towards prevention. Ulrike has been an avid runner and hiker for years and loves to ski and snowshoe. She has participated in the Nike Women’s Marathon raising funds for the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society and now looks forward to climbing Mt. Shasta for the Breast Cancer Fund.
Sarah Lockenmeyer—Oakland, CA
Sarah climbs to honor her mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38 when Sarah was just 16. Sarah went on to study alternative ways to work with traditional breast cancer treatment earning a certificate as a Holistic Nutritional Therapist. She also became a yoga instructor and designed nutrition plans for people facing cancer. She is currently a doctoral candidate in psychology. She joined the climb because she wants to take an active role in preventing cancer and giving future mothers and daughters hope. Sarah has hiked the Appalachian Trail through five states, enjoys hiking in Tilden and Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland and loves to snow shoe.
Jill Lyon—San Rafael, CA
Jill climbs in honor of her sister, her brother and her friend Jenny. Jill was raised in Marin and loved climbing up and around Mt. Tamalpais. Coming home after almost 30 years back east, she joined a women’s hiking group and her love of the climb was fired back up. She spent years promoting music, selling books, managing coffee shops, and now, having jumped from the corporate life runs a family owned pickle and sauerkraut company in Sonoma County. She has been able to create time to wander the PCT, or a trek through Tuscany (when she’s not packing pickles, coring cabbage, or looking at bacteria under a microscope). Having lost too many dear to her to cancer, this climb provides the opportunity to do what she loves while supporting the Breast Cancer Fund’s efforts to prevent breast cancer.
Ed Mansourou—Castro Valley, CA
Ed climbs in honor of a friend he lost to Melanoma and to help raise awareness about prevention. He represents Clif Bar, one of the Breast Cancer Fund’s major sponsors, in the Climb Against the Odds. Ed currently works in the I.T. department at Clif. He was the Co-Shepherd for the annual Clif Golf Tournament that raised over $50,000 for local charities and along with his co-worker and Clif climber Ritu, he is planning a Poker Night and a Western Themed night as fundraising events for the Breast Cancer Fund.
Ritu Mathur—San Francisco, CA
Ritu was diagnosed with Leukemia at a time in her life when she felt the fittest she ever had. Now she wants to push past her last year of illness and be strong again while raising funds for a cause she believes in. She hopes to spread the prevention message by sharing her knowledge of toxic chemicals in everyday products. Ritu was a National Merit Scholar and studied French, art, philosophy and literature at the Paris-Sorbonne University. She currently works in marketing at Clif Bar and along with her co-worker Ed, will represent Clif on Mt. Shasta this year.
Elizabeth Naylor—Dallas, TX
At the age of 35 Elizabeth’s life took a turn as she realized her symptoms and family history of cancer indicated that she was on a path to developing the disease herself. She lost two aunts who were in their early 60s, and breast and colon cancer run in her mom’s family. Believing that cancer is largely a preventable disease, she began studying natural health and ended up with a doctorate in Holistic Nutrition. Elizabeth is a published author and speaks to groups nationally about nutrition and natural health. She looks forward to the challenge of training for and climbing Mt. Shasta.
Ashley Peterson—Denver, CO
Ashley climbs for her mom, her aunt and her grandmother who have all faced breast cancer. Since hiking and being outdoors were Ashley’s outlet for stress relief during her mom’s treatment joining the Climb Against the Odds felt like a perfect fit and living in Colorado gives her the perfect training ground. Ashley has an MBA and studied in Panama in a Development and Conservation program. She is a Junior Board Member of Florence Crittenton Services in Colorado, an organization that works to empower teen mothers to be productive members of the Denver community.
Christine Rocca—Hercules, CA
Christine applied for the 2014 climb and was unable to attend due to weakness resulting from her cancer treatment. This year her determined attitude has brought her back, ready to tackle the mountain. Her climb is all about helping and inspiring others while challenging her own mind, body and spirit. She hopes to encourage other cancer patients to live life to the fullest. Christine has been a Crossfit devotee, has participated in Tough Mudder Tahoe, and has done the Aids Ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She has also run many 5 and 10K races, so she is no stranger to hard training and looks forward to the challenge of Mt. Shasta.
Sara Scmidt—Oakland, CA
Sara is the Breast Cancer Fund staff climber. She chose to work at the Breast Cancer Fund because she believes in the mission of prevention, but didn't have a close personal connection with the work until last year when she learned of a friend’s diagnosis. Her friend is just 30 years old, healthy and without genetic risk factors. Sara is now even more invested in her work and is enthusiastically fundraising and training for the climb. As an avid backpacker she is excited about the prospect of climbing a mountain and knows that joining the Shasta team will be a contribution to the mission outside her day to day role. Sara has done a through hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail, has climbed Mt. Whitney and is preparing for the 220 mile John Muir Trail bedsides taking on the Shasta climb.