Alzheimer’s Disease may have taken Frank Simpson’s life nine years ago, but his daughters are still determined to help find a cure.
Beginning Sept. 18, Karen and Alison Simpson, along with Karen’s husband, Jeff Bauer, will climb Mount Kilimanjaro, to raise funds for research.
With her 50th birthday looming, and a goal to see many of the Wonders of the World, Karen wanted to challenge herself.
“Initially, I was just doing the climb for me and didn’t want the pressure put on the trip by raising donations,” she said. “Then as it got closer, I found myself truly wanting to use this challenge as an opportunity to have a lasting impact. With Alison joining the trek, it was perfect to commemorate our father in this way.”
The Simpsons have always been a tight clan, and Frank taught his daughters many lessons over the years.
“It was definitely difficult when our Dad was ill, as I had very young children and Mom was an hour away in Cambridge with Dad,” said Karen. “I know I wanted her more involved and I know she wanted to be more involved and we all definitely wanted the man we adored to be himself again.
“It’s life — you take the positive from all situations and make the most of it.”
Climbing via Rongai route, the trio plan to reach the summit on Sept. 23.
Alison is no stranger to challenges. A runner of many marathons, in 2011, Alison completed a 240-kilometre run through the Egyptian Sahara Desert.
“On a happy note, I won’t have to deal with 40-plus degree heat, carrying a 20-pound pack on my back, or running in sand for the entire race,” Alison said. “However, we will be climbing straight uphill for five days, so that will inevitably bring some extraordinary challenges with it.”
Hesitant to get started at first, Bauer finally got into the rhythm of training in May, and admires his wife’s determination.
“My bond with Alison? She is the mirror image in what her morals are, and her drive and determination is,” Bauer said. “She, as does Karen, goes through life inspiring people that come into contact with her, there are few people like them out there.”
To prepare for the Tanzanian summit, Karen and Bauer, along with their teenage son, Riley, hiked the Colorado Rockies — which Karen claims as having similar conditions to Kilimanjaro.
They climbed 2,900 metres on day one, and 1,500 on day two — taking them over seven hours up and down the mountain. “The summit was quite difficult,” Karen said. “[We had boulders for the last two hours up, and then we had to come back down them.
“We did this climb without any altitude medication; it gave us a lot of confidence for our climb on Kilimanjaro in September.”
Alison is happy her older sister has been focused on the climb, challenging her and Bauer in last few months.
“Both of our parents always encouraged us to believe that we could accomplish anything we set our minds to, if we were willing to work hard enough for it,” Alison said. “The way Karen and my brother-in-law Jeff have embraced the Kilimanjaro challenge is proof positive of just how true my dad and mom were.”
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