“Life is bananas,” said Caroline Mayberry, program director for the High Hopes Challenge – The Summer of Everything, led by Charity-Launch. She should know. She just decided to spend her summer – and the first months of her married life – traveling around the United States as Challenge participants – cancer survivors and community members alike – summit the nation’s highest points. Alongside Charity-Launch president Charlie Wittmack, Mayberry will be coordinating and documenting fundraisers in partnership with businesses and nonprofits across 50 states through 50 adventures involving 50 summits.
As she considers her role in this inaugural, summer-long event, Mayberry said, “I’m shaking in my boots but equally excited.” She’s excited by the cause: the Foundation for Cancer Care in Tanzania hired Charity-Launch to organize the challenge as a support base for a modern cancer center in East Africa. The center is being built by a conglomeration of US-based hospitals and universities in partnership with Courage in Motion, Radiating Hope, Fighters 4 Life and the Foundation for Cancer Care. According to the organizers, cancer is the greatest cause of death in East Africa, where 94 percent of the known cases go untreated.
Letting that go unnoticed is not Mayberry’s style. She lost her father, Bob, to pancreatic cancer in 2012 despite access to the best treatment possible and was so intertwined with his fight that she became vegan for six months alongside him. When he was diagnosed, he eliminated animal products from his diet to decrease inflammation on a cellular level and lessen the chance for disease growth. At the same time, Mayberry said, “What I could do was keep myself healthy and clean enough to deal with what I was going to deal with every day.”
She wants her summer journey to expose others to healthy lifestyle changes – simple ways to deflect cancer risks. She also wants her line of work to embody the other lessons her dad instilled in her. “He taught me that it wasn’t so much the earthly stuff that was valuable, but the experiences,” she said. “And he taught me how to have fun.”
The whole nation is invited to have fun with her this summer. Whether participants opt to bike the Florida kickoff event from Seaside to Britton Hill on May 15; hike Mount Mitchell in North Carolina on May 24; fly high in hot air balloons by Charles Mound, Illinois, on July 4; or follow the hashtags #highhopesforcancer #highhopeschallenge #passthecure; they can be part of passing the cure to Tanzania. The challenge culminates with a hike from the summit of Fort Reno in D.C. on September 6, down to the National Mall to present funds and cancer memorial ribbons collected in each state to the Foundation for Cancer Care.
Mayberry said this summer of summiting encourages people to try everything, try “doing what you think is impossible.” She just has one universal question to answer while she’s at it: “What all can I accomplish?”