It started with my sister, Jodi, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. Hearing the words “no available cure” from doctors was not good enough for me. I wanted to raise money as quickly as possible to help find the next viral treatment for breast cancer. Just after Jodi’s diagnosis, I was on Pico de Orizaba in Mexico (18,500’) with my buddy Eric Kronthal when we had the idea to raise money for cancer research through our climbing expeditions. We started Jodi’s Climb for Hope.
Climbing is a great metaphor for breast cancer. Most climbers experience altitude induced headaches, nausea, and fatigue. People throw up and their bodies feel heavy. Jodi dealt with that every day for over four years.
On our third climbing trip for Jodi, we ventured to Iceland’s tallest peak, Mt. Hvannadalshnjúkur. On this same trip, we were introduced to skyr, an Icelandic cultured dairy product, for the first time. Being lactose intolerant, I was scared to eat it, but having burned 6,000 calories a day, I had to take the risk. Surprisingly, I didn’t suffer from an upset stomach. Our guide Ivar told us that this age-old, traditional, strained non-fat yogurt is very high in protein and has virtually no lactose because of the probiotic consuming cultures.
We were fortunate enough to add $25,000 to our previous $400,000 in donations on this trip. We also returned with the idea for our B’more Organic smoothies.
Today, we’ve raised nearly $750,000 for Jodi’s Climb for Hope.
My wife and I came back and decided to start our own skyr company, using our personal core values “B’more Healthy, B’more Giving, B’more Green.” We are thrilled that B’more Organic has grown into a company where we can encourage people to eat better while also supporting a cause that affects many. The bigger B’more Organic gets on a national level, the more money is channeled to fund breast cancer (and now Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research), as 1% of sales goes to John’s Hopkins Hospital research efforts.
The non-profit helps us keep my sister’s memory alive. We are really excited to have a new climb, the first of its kind, in 2016: an all women’s climb up Mount Adam’s (12,400’) inspired by my wife, Jennifer, who had to quit climbing seven years ago when she was diagnosed with MS. Our expedition outfitter, Rare Earth Adventures, is helping to carry her up the entire mountain, and let her travel the last 100ft. It will be an emotional journey for Jennifer and all those women. It was tough for her to quit something she was so passionate about, but we are grateful this climb is going to be made possible. Climb for Hope supports research for everyone affected by MS and breast cancer and allows us to carry on Jodi’s memory which reminds us to b’more every single day.