Meet Our 2011 Climbers
In June 2011, an inspiring team of women and men climbed Northern California's 14,179-foot Mt. Shasta for breast cancer prevention. Each climber trained, fundraised and climbed to honor the courage it takes to face breast cancer, and to honor loved ones touched by the disease. Together, they proved that anything is possible if taken one step at a time. Learn more about Climb Against the Odds.
Look back at Climb Against the Odds 2011 in pictures.
Carol Anderson—San Francisco
Introduced to the Breast Cancer Fund through a good friend participating in Sacred Treks: Everest, Carol Anderson signed up for Climb Against the Odds after meeting fellow climber Cadie Jessup on a training hike. She was inspired by Cadie's positive attitude and determination to climb Mt. Shasta despite having lost her leg just over a year ago. Carol also sees the climb as an opportunity to step outside of her comfort zone, and to challenge herself to go to new heights in honor of breast cancer prevention.
Hester Bennett—Oakland, Calif.
Hester Bennett will be one of several staff members from the Breast Cancer Fund’s strategic business partner, Clif Bar & Company, to join the 2011 Climb Against the Odds. Inspired by fellow Clif staff who have shared inspiring tales from past climbs, Hester was motivated by what others describe as an intensely positive experience, one she also hopes to use to honor the memory of her father, who died of cancer when she was just 15. The experience is part of her personal commitment to never take love and life for granted.
Shiera Brady Henderson—Danville, Calif.
At the age of 39, in great shape and leading a healthy lifestyle, Shiera Brady Henderson was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Her experience of going through cancer moved her to write a book, Survival Through Laughter—Shiera vs. Breast Cancer. Among her life lessons learned, surviving cancer gave her the confidence to become more adventuresome and it resurrected her love of the outdoors. In the last few years, she's summitted six mountain peaks, and was part of a seven-person team last year that snowshoed across Antarctica's South Georgia Island. She looks forward to writing and photographing her Climb Against the Odds experience as she celebrates the 10-year mark since her breast cancer diagnosis.
Damon Butler—Portland, Ore.
Damon Butler is a staff member at Ahnu, a strategic business partner of the Breast Cancer Fund, and as such he is proud to represent his team at Climb Against the Odds 2011. Supporting the mission of breast cancer prevention is a personal endeavor for Damon. He will climb to honor the courage of his stepmother, Joan, and mother-in-law, Rosalie, who are both breast cancer survivors and have inspired him through their bravery in the face of the disease. Damon is also climbing in remembrance of Rene "Redd" Cuestas, a member of the Ahnu extended family, who lost his life during his decent of Mount Shasta in 1999.
Mary Beth Cadwell—San Anselmo, Calif.
When Mary Beth was 20 years old, her biological mother, Susan, came into her life. They quickly developed a very close relationship that involved both Mary Beth and Susan’s families. In 1997, they discovered that Susan had metastatic breast cancer. Over the next several years, Mary Beth grew close to Susan’s partner, Linda, who was her support and advocate through years of treatment. In 2002, Susan died of cancer, and at that time, Mary Beth and her husband, Peter, decided to move their family from Boston to the Bay Area to be closer to Linda. Together, Mary Beth and Linda will take on Mt. Shasta with Climb Against the Odds to honor Susan and her presence in their lives.
Katie Caygill—Berkeley, Calif.
For Katie Caygill, her family's intimate experience with cancer led her into a career in healthcare with a special passion for finding new treatments with safer side effects. The youngest of six kids, her mother died of breast cancer when Katie was just five years old, and in 1994, her oldest sister was diagnosed with cancer and courageously faced the disease for several years before passing in 2004. After losing an aunt to breast cancer in 2010, Katie knew that she wanted to do something to celebrate the many women in her life who have gone through this devastating disease. She’ll join her close friend and the Breast Cancer Fund’s staff climber, Melissa Walthers, on this year's Climb Against the Odds team.
Carly Chomer—Washington, D.C.
Carly Chomer began working for the Breast Cancer Fund in 2007. At that time, breast cancer had little impact on her life or on her immediate family, but it was hard not to be aware of the pervasiveness of the disease and how affected almost everyone around her. Upon getting involved with the Breast Cancer Fund, she had an "a-ha" moment in knowing that there was a piece of the cancer puzzle that wasn’t being talked about. Over the last three years, the opportunity to work with so many survivors—especially those who are young and healthy with no family history of the disease—and her dedicated colleagues has been both profound and life-changing. Throughout that time, she's also enrolled her mom, Kathy Mow, in the Climb Against the Odds experience, and they'll be taking on this journey together in 2011.
Janet Dobson—Virginia Beach, Va.
Even though Janet Dobson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, she feels like the experience has had a profoundly positive effect on her life. Healthy and active from years of running, biking and weight training, she was able to stay active throughout treatment and inspired other survivors to keep an upbeat attitude. On the one-year anniversary of her diagnosis, she successfully climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, reaching new heights in the face of this disease, and in taking on Mt. Shasta, she hopes to motivate and be motivated by an inspiring team of survivors and other touched by breast cancer who are together sharing a commitment to stop this disease before it starts.
Paul Engstrom—Mt. Shasta, Calif.
Every year the Breast Cancer Fund welcomes a member of the Mt. Shasta community to Climb Against the Odds, and this year, the community will be supporting Paul Engstrom! His motivation for applying to climb was started by friends urging him to participate and by a close friend's recent death to breast cancer. His second reason for climbing is to honor his brother Eric, who passed away at 43 and suffered from cerebral palsy. Eric spent his life in a wheelchair, and Paul knows that, if he was able, his brother would have climbed Shasta for a good cause. And finally, he's climbing to create a healthy tomorrow for his granddaughters, Kestra and Annika. Paul's goal is to reach the summit with his friend Theresa as his guide, Eric as his legs and his granddaughters as his inspiration.
Leann Ferry—Houston, Texas
On December 21, 2010, Leann Ferry finished 10 months of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation after receiving her breast cancer diagnosis. Always in good health, committed to regular exercise and a healthy diet, her diagnosis propelled her to become even more aware of what she puts in and on her body. Her goals for joining Climb Against the Odds 2011 are two-fold: to make 2011 a more joyous year and to give back to a nonprofit that shares her commitment to a clean and healthy environment and stopping breast cancer before it starts. She’s also motivated to join other cancer survivors who want to tackle big goals and do it in a big way, like climbing mountains.
Elly Fike—Kentfield, Calif.
At 14, Elly Fike set the record last year for the youngest teammate in Climb Against the Odds history. She had set her sights on Mt. Shasta when her mom climbed with the Breast Cancer Fund in 2004, and 2010, they joined together for an experience of a lifetime.
This year, Elly will climb alone but in the company of many close teammates from last year, including Whitney Pond, Geoffrey Gray-Cornelius, Steve Heird, Linda Morton and Cathy Ann Taylor.
Sarah Geyer—Chico, Calif.
For Sarah Geyer, Climb Against the Odds is a continuation of a personal goal for growth and awareness and also a motivation for a greater ascent to personal health at every level. She strives to be a living example of healthy choices for our bodies, minds, spirits and environment. Sarah has watched as several members of her family have gone through breast cancer scares and diagnoses, and she even had a personal incident that created heighten awareness around making safer choices for her own health. An employee of Klean Kanteen, a generous supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund, she’s been inspired by the Breast Cancer Fund’s approach to prevention. For her, this climb is an extension of Klean Kanteen’s company motto: “Do well by doing good.”
Betsy Gordon—San Rafael, Calif.
Betsy Gordon joined Climb Against the Odds this year for the positive physical and emotional challenge. Her climb honors the work so many go through with cancer—including her father, sister, brother and many others. Betsy has provided generous support to the Breast Cancer Fund's scientific reports, including The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls. She hopes the climb will be another opportunity to bring attention to the organization's work and to the scientific evidence linking breast cancer to the environment.
Geoffrey Gray-Cornelius—Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Geoffrey Gray-Cornelius will join Climb Against the Odds for his second time, having originally learned about the event through his mother, Janet Gray, a professor at Vassar College and the Breast Cancer Fund's invaluable science advisor. The family was touched by cancer in 1984 and again in 1996 when Janet's mother was rediagnosed. The experience inspired Dr. Gray to begin actively researching and educating the public about the link between breast cancer and environmental exposures. Geoff has sought ways to support his mother’s passion and chose the Breast Cancer Fund's Climb Against the Odds as a way to help.
Bernadette Green and Steven Heird—York, Pa.
Bernadette Green is a cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2009, who sees her life now through a new lens of hope and purpose. During treatment, her optimism and spirituality allowed her to look upon the experience from a higher perspective and learn from the journey. She was also re-introduced to Steven Heird, her boyfriend and fellow climber, who opened a new freshness to her life and helped her through recovery. In remission, she was ready for a new challenge when she experienced Climb Against the Odds in 2010 as Steve climbed for the second time. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference by climbing for the Breast Cancer Fund, while also having the climb make a difference in her life.
Climb Against the Odds 2011 will be Steven Heird's third climb of Mt. Shasta with the Breast Cancer Fund. While originally drawn to the event through his interest in the mountain, he joined the 2009 team with wholehearted support for the Breast Cancer Fund’s mission. A physician, Steven believes that in order to reduce occurrences of cancer we need a greater understanding of causation. On a personal level, he has lost two friends to breast cancer, an uncle to lymphoma and recently supported his father through treatment for leukemia. For Steven, the journey of Climb Against the Odds advances wellness and disease prevention, as well as furthers his own spiritual development. He's looking forward to making this year's climb with his girlfriend, Bernadette.
Donate to Bernadette and Steven's climb
Diane Henry—San Francisco
Until recently, Diane Henry considered herself fortunate enough to say that she had no personal experience with breast cancer. That all changed when, in the weeks after deciding to join Climb Against the Odds, an old friend was diagnosed with an early stage of the disease. Ironically, Diane and her same friend climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro together 10 years ago. To honor all those who have been touched by breast cancer and to take on a challenge of a lifetime to mark her 40th birthday, she'll be joining this year's climb team and hopes, in the process, to raise awareness and support for the Breast Cancer Fund.
Cadie Jessup—Charlotte, N.C.
In the face of adversity, Cadie Jessup's new motto has become "limb loss does not equal life loss." In 2009, she developed a blood clot in her left leg that required it to be amputated above the knee. Two women close to Cadie were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. Cadie was hoping to organize a hike for amputees and run a 5k race for breast cancer when she saw a magazine ad for Climb Against the Odds. She was immediately motivated to join the climb to both honor her friends and challenge herself beyond what most think is possible.
Jessica Lau—San Leandro, Calif.
Before Jessica Lau had graduated high school, an aunt, an uncle and a close friend had died of cancer. Wanting to know why and what she could do to reduce the risk for her immediate family, she was instantly drawn to the Breast Cancer Fund when she learned about the environmental links to the disease through her employer, Clif Bar & Company, a long-time sponsor of Climb Against the Odds and the Breast Cancer Fund's strategic business partner. Jessica is determined to use her participation in Climb Against the Odds as an opportunity to educate her family and friends about breast cancer prevention, and to raise money in support of efforts to stop the disease before it starts.
Ann Maechtlen—Missoula, Mont.
"Climbing was one of the best experiences of my life. I've become so much more aware of my strength--to climb mountains, to face cancer, and to work to prevent other women from ever having to get that diagnosis."
-Ann Maechtlen, Missoula, Mont., 2-time cancer survivor, 2008 and 2011 Climb teams
Ann Maechtlen joined the Breast Cancer Fund’s 2008 climb of Mt. Shasta, only seven months after finishing treatment for breast cancer. She strongly believes that her diagnosis, as well as an earlier incident of cancer, was linked to environmental exposures, including radiation and DDT. To mark her 50th birthday and her good health, she’s climbing again to continue raising awareness around the Breast Cancer Fund’s work and to inspire others to make safe and healthy choices.
Brook McCormick—San Anselmo, Calif.
Brook McCormick is joining Climb Against the Odds alongside her close friends Linda Trenholm and Mary Beth Cadwell. Since 2002, Brook lost her Aunt Mary and dear neighbor, Don Whitney, to lymphoma, and she was part of a remarkable team that supported Linda's partner and Mary Beth's mother, Susan Detjens, who died of metastatic breast cancer. She's taking on training, fundraising and climbing as a worthwhile personal challenge that honors the courageous way they lived with the challenge of cancer.
Amanda Michaud—Greenwich, Conn.
Amanda Michaud is hoping to carry on a family tradition of climbing Mt. Shasta with the Breast Cancer Fund. Her aunt Laura Lifland has been on three Climb Against the Odds teams, and at just 17 years old, Amanda would like to follow in her footsteps, inspired by Laura’s passion for the Breast Cancer Fund and for prevention. Amanda also hopes that her climb will inspire her friends to go to great heights to create a healthy future and make the world a better place.
Juliet Moran—Burlington, Vt.
Juliet Moran strongly believes that exposure to toxic chemicals can have a tremendous impact on our health and the health of our environment. A workplace exposure in her mid 20s took a personal toll and resulted in long-term health effects. Introduced to the Breast Cancer Fund through her employer, Seventh Generation, she’s committed to raising awareness that what we put in and on our bodies matters, and to supporting the Breast Cancer Fund’s work to create a cleaner, safer and less-toxic world.
As a sales rep for ISIS, one of the Breast Cancer Fund’s leading sponsors, Linda Morton has known about Climb Against the Odds for many years, and after losing several close friends to breast cancer, she was inspired to join the 2005 expedition of Mt. Rainier to honor their courage and strength. She returned to Mt. Shasta the following year to summit with her teammate and friend Sherry Miller, who lost her life to breast cancer in May 2007. In June, Linda will return for her seventh Climb Against the Odds. This year, she will dedicate her climb to Lee Ann Holt. Through this event and other fundraisers, Linda has raised over $175,000 to the Breast Cancer Fund, and in April 2009, she was named a Breast Cancer Fund Hero, receiving the Andrea Ravinett Martin Strong Voices award.
Kathy Mow—Bristol, Ind.
Kathy Mow has had many women in her life touched by breast cancer. As she began learning about the Breast Cancer Fund's work through her daughter, Carly Chomer, a staff member and fellow climber, she became passionate about wanting to educate her Northern Indiana community about the link between environmental exposures and the high rates of the disease. With Carly supporting three past Climb Against the Odds teams, Kathy has sent several prayer flags up the mountain in honor of close friends, and this year, she'll have the opportunity to make the climb with these flags, and others, in her pack. Kathy is also climbing to do something bigger than herself and beyond what she thought was possible, and to join Carly for a mother-daughter experience of a lifetime.
Betsy Ogden—Hanover, N.H.
In September 2009, Betsy Ogden was strong and healthy, the owner of a Pilates studio and a practicing physical therapist when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Staying active throughout her treatment, she marked the anniversary of her diagnosis in 2010 by signing up for Climb Against the Odds, knowing that she was ready to take on this very personal and physical challenge. She climbs because going up mountains makes her feel alive, and because she wants to join others who share her desire to feel strong again in the face of cancer. Betsy is excited to be part of the amazing group of women and men who will climb Mt. Shasta in 2011 to support the Breast Cancer Fund's mission to prevent breast cancer.
Gina Setla—Benicia, Calif.
Gina Selta recently started at Clif Bar and found herself in awe of her fellow employees who were committed to work, family and giving back to the community through athletics. As a sports enthusiast and mother of three, she's joined Climb Against the Odds in order to take on accomplishing a big personal and physical goal, especially as she celebrates her 40th birthday. She's also climbing for the countless friends and loved ones who have courageously gone through cancer or faced this disease with parents or children.
Michael Sevy—San Francisco
Michael Sevy’s personal philosophy for being part of this year’s mountain expedition is: "tomorrow is never promised." Too many friends have faced breast cancer, and as he looks toward a milestone birthday in 2011, he began reflecting on his contributions to prevention.
Even though he hopes for a cure for friends going through cancer, he’s passionate about working to reduce the risk for their daughters (and sons).
Leta Sharpe—Denver, Colo.
In 1986, Leta Sharpe’s father was diagnosed in the late stages of cancer, and at just 18 years old, the experience of losing her father to this disease had a profound effect on her life. In 2008, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer that was spotted early, and she's since been in good health. In learning that her mother's cancer was not genetic, Leta began to immediately question what other factors might be playing a role in the high rates of this disease. Fellow climber Linda Morton introduced Leta to the Breast Cancer Fund and Climb Against the Odds, and she's taking on this personal, mental and physical challenge as a way to support and spread the word about breast cancer prevention.
Cathy Ann Taylor—Sausalito, Calif.
A friend of the Breast Cancer Fund since 1997, Cathy Ann Taylor has been a team member and training leader on ten Climb Against the Odds expeditions, including Mt. McKinley (1998), Mt. Fuji (2000), Mt. Rainier (2005) and Mt. Shasta (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010), and has personally raised over $400,000 for prevention. Inspired by her grandmother and close friends who have faced breast cancer, Cathy Ann uses her strength to honor theirs. After 20 years of being a professional mountain guide throughout the world, she started her own company, Cattara–Adventures with Insight, in early 2008 and recently brought an international dimension to the Breast Cancer Fund’s outdoor challenges with Sacred Treks, a program that leads participants on some of the world's most celebrated hikes and raises money for prevention. To date, Sacred Treks has raised over $300,000 for the Breast Cancer Fund. Cathy Ann has been recognized by Outdoors magazine for her volunteer efforts and by the Breast Cancer Fund with the Andrea Ravinett Martin Strong Voices award.
Kirsti Tcherkoyan—San Francisco
A member of the 2007 Climb Against the Odds team, Kirsti Tcherkoyan made the decision to climb in 2011 after being personally touched by breast cancer.
To honor the courage of her mom and a family friend who is like a sister to her, Kirsti is climbing to support the Breast Cancer Fund's commitment to eliminate the environmental causes of cancer.
Linda Trenholm—San Anselmo, Calif.
In 1997, Linda's partner, Susan, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Healthy all her life, they believe that her diagnosis at 49 was influenced by environmental factors, including her exposure years earlier to dioxins. In 2010, Linda found the Breast Cancer Fund and learned about Climb Against the Odds, setting her sights on climbing Mt. Shasta as a way to honor her 19 years with Susan, as well as to give back to an organization working to eliminate the environmental links to breast cancer.
The climb is also an opportunity for Linda to recognize her mother and father, who both recently passed, her amazing friend Judy who is living life fully with metastatic breast cancer, and her many friends living with life-threatening illnesses.
Donate to Linda's climb
Melissa Walthers—Oakland, Calif.
Melissa with her son, Oliver
As a policy coordinator for the Breast Cancer Fund, Melissa Walthers’s advocacy for prevention is a personal and professional passion inspired by the women in her life who have faced cancer and by her motivation to create a healthy future for her young son, Oliver. After meeting past climbers and hearing their stories, she knew that joining Climb Against the Odds would be a life-changing and inspiring team experience, and a way for her to give back to an organization she whole-heartedly supports. And, she’s also setting her sight on the summit—an impressive personal goal after giving birth to Oliver just 10 months before climbing!
Erin Warren—Missoula, Mont.
Erin Warren climbed Mt. Shasta with the Breast Cancer Fund in 2007 as a way to honor a close aunt who had died of the disease. Shaken by this loss and awakened to the reality of how devastating this loss is to those left behind, the Breast Cancer Fund's mission spoke to Erin, especially as a young mother wanting to ensure a healthy future for her daughter and son. Her passion for the Breast Cancer Fund has led to seven fundraising events in Missoula that have helped raised awareness of Climb Against the Odds and encouraged several local women to join the expedition. Erin will climb again in memory of her aunt and with her children’s healthy futures in her heart.