December 19, 2006

Climbers Missing on Mt. Hood

Missing Friends

It has now been over a week since three climbers were first reported missing on Oregon’s Mt Hood. I am writing this article to let all of you readers know that two of these climbers are very close to the hearts of all of us at Parenting with Dignity.

“Why would you be close to some guys climbing a mountain?” You ask.

Well, the answer is really pretty simple… two of those climbers were very supportive of our Parenting with Dignity Program long before they ever went onto that mountain! As a matter of fact, about four months ago, Brian Hall, one of the men on the mountain, contacted me on behalf of the Performance Playground, a facility where he was a Physical Trainer. The reason Brian contacted me was to inform me that their top-rated workout center in Dallas would like to do some fundraising for us because they had chosen us as one charity that they would like to support!

I was Flabbergasted!

Brian shocked me when he proposed a very unique fund-raising event. He said that the Performance Playground would like to start the first of a few fundraisers to help support our Parenting with Dignity Program! He was proposing that they would like to do an “Open House Evening” at their facility sometime around Thanksgiving to raise funds for our program! Brian proposed that they would be showcasing the paintings of a local artist in their facility. Her work would be displayed on the walls around the workout areas of the health club and it would be offered for sale. Half of the proceeds from the sale of her beautiful, original paintings would go directly to Parenting with Dignity!

Climbers on Mt. Hood
During that event, Brian shared his love of mountain climbing, hiking, and camping. We started setting up preliminary plans for him to come to Montana to enjoy our beautiful area. He also told me that evening that soon he and his friend were either going to climb Mt. McKinley in Alaska or Mt. Hood in Oregon as a training mission for attempting to climb Mt. Everest!
Brian e-mailed me on November 28th to tell me that they had decided on going to Mt. Hood. That was the last that I have heard from him!

This brings me to a second of the climbers lost on Mt. Hood, 48-year-old Kelly James, an Architect from the Dallas, Texas area. Kelly is the husband of the artist, Karen, whose paintings were being sold at Performance Playground to help Parenting with Dignity!

I think that it is obvious to anyone who has followed the tragedy of these climbers and their plight on Mt. Hood that these were men of action.

Well, within only two weeks of Brian contacting me, the event at the Performance Playhouse was a reality! They invited me to come to an open house at their “gnarly” and beautiful workout center for an evening with many of their staff and clients. Let me tell you, it was a very cheerful and upbeat affair!

At the party they had a wonderful catered meal and some wine for tasting. Then after visiting with many wonderful folks for about an hour and a half, I was introduced to the James family, Kelly and Karen, his wife the artist. We talked for over an hour. These people were so full of the love of life. Kelly shared with me his love of mountains and climbing and camping. We even discussed having them up to Montana for a visit as well as Brian.
Karen shared some of her creative thoughts about some of her paintings that were hanging around the room. It was a delightful evening with some great people.

Before I left the gathering, the attendees had raised over a thousand dollars in cash and checks to go toward the work of PWD! Later that week Brian called to let me know that the sale of paintings had raised considerably more money for PWD!

I told Brian that his call offering to help was one of the first of such calls we had ever received and that his generosity was kind of overwhelming. He told me that he would like to have me come and visit Performance Playground again over the Christmas Holidays to, as he put it, “Pick up another really big check!”

I knew that our program had found some very wonderful new friends as I saw the tears in both Brian’s and Kelly’s as they presented me the money raised that evening. They wished me well on my way out the door that evening.

Now, the friendship and support that they offered to us has taken on a real emotional twist of fate as I heard last week that those two amazing guys had become lost on Mt. Hood along with a dear friend. I have read and watched the reports for that past week with my heart in my throat!

Yesterday, I learned that Kelly had been found dead in an ice cave at the summit of the mountain. Current reports are saying that things are looking bleak for Brian and the third climber, Jerry “Nikko” Cook. It is hard for me to not believe that somehow Brian will come through this simply because of his overpowering positive attitude. Climbers have been known to live for weeks in ice caves in the past!

Offer a Small bit of Help!

Now let me tell you the reason for including all of this in this blog about parenting… and it is pretty simple. These men believed in what we are doing! They were unique in the fact that they did not just give lip service to the belief in what we are doing either; they dug in to offer real help. I would like to return the favor. I am personally going to send a donation to the rescue efforts for these men!
Please Make a Donation!

I would like to suggest that you do the same. A fund has been created for just that purpose. Ten dollar donations are suggested to be made to:

Mount Hood Rescue Fund at:
Dallas National Bank
2725 Turtle Creek Blvd.
Dallas TX 75219
Robert G. Ortega []


Anonymous said...

Truly a sad story. I can't imagine what these families are going through while waiting for news. Our prayers are with them. Thank you for such an insightful posting.

Mac said...

Sad, yes! However these men died pursuing their love. It is so tragic that the two of them have not yet been found. I'm sure that it is difficult for their families to bring closure to this whole thing without finding their loved ones.