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This fundraiser ended on 01/29/12

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We dayhiked the highest mountain in the Lower 48 states so Sharlie can afford new lungs—and a new heart! Please read on....

Donate to A Summit for Sharlie From Steve Netherby [Please scroll down for these updates: 8/9/2011: “Preparing Our Lungs for the Climb” 8/10/2011: “The Climb!” 8/18/2011: “Message from Sharlie’s Brother Dax” 8/22/2011: “Message from Collette—Sharlie’s Mom” 10/10/2011: “Latest Word”] As Camping Editor of Field & Stream, I climbed many mountains and stood on many peaks. Some of the climbs were grueling, with each breath a battle in the thin air. But my high-mountain challenges were nothing—compared to the lifelong battle waged for every breath by those with the degenerative lung disease cystic fibrosis (CF). On August 10, I led a team of five climbers on a dayhike of Mt. Whitney, at 14,508 feet the highest peak in the Lower 48 states. This 22-mile trek is considered one of this continent’s most demanding, and we trained for six months to hone muscles, equipment, and skills to meet the test. I climbed Mt. Whitney five times before. This time, I climbed to help save the life of a friend and valiant CF hero of mine—Sharlie Kaltenbach. Sharlie is facing an imminent heart and double-lung transplant. She must have it or she will die. Now 32, she has had cystic fibrosis since birth and lost her younger sister to CF (please view the You Tube video). When diagnosed, her life expectancy was 10 years. That she has lived as long as she has, and has even delivered a healthy son, was long thought to be impossible. Her resilient spirit has been an inspiration to thousands through her church activities, motivational speeches before large business audiences, and charity work mentoring and supporting others stricken with CF. Now, however, one of her lungs has failed completely, and the other only functions at 18-percent of normal. Sharlie’s loving light is dimming, like a candle starved of air. This beautiful human being has climbed the equivalent of a lifetime of mountains. The next peak she must surmount will be to endure her perilous but life-saving double-lung transplant. But before she can even reach the trailhead for that challenge, she and her family must show they have the ability to raise as much as $1million to cover the surgery and subsequent critical care. I attempted the Mt. Whitney climb for Sharlie in August. My fond desire is that one day soon Sharlie can join her family and friends to climb a real mountain, drawing in clean, high air deeply with two healthy lungs. I would be honored if you would join my team and help us make this happen. My donations goal is $14,508—one dollar for every foot of Mt. Whitney’s elevation. Please help us reach our fundraising summit. We will appreciate any amount you desire to donate. Ten dollars is a meaningful donation … $14.51 is perhaps a symbolic one. Making a donation is easy, secure, and efficient! Just click the "Give" button on this page to make a donation that will be credited to my team. We will deeply appreciate any amount you can donate! Ninety-three cents of every dollar you donate will go into a special fund to help Sharlie’s family fund her heart-lung transplant. The other seven cents go to GiveForward, the company that makes this Web site possible. Thank you for supporting A Summit for Sharlie and helping Sharlie get her new lungs! 8/9/2011: Preparing Our Lungs for the Climb Today, the day before our Mt. Whitney climb, we hiked the 4-mile Methuselah Loop Trail in the White Mountains to acclimate to elevations above 10,000 feet. The White Mountains are home to bristle-cone pines believed to be the oldest trees in the world. These trees are spectacular wood art, sculpted by water, wind, sand, and snow and singed by lightning through the eons. Often, most of a tree appears dead, but a tuft of green needles on a single branch or several betray the fact that life still pulses within the magnificent wood. On one stretch of trail, as I led my group through a grove of these watching old souls, tears welled in my eyes. They were tears of gratitude for the privilege of experiencing that special place and for the opportunity to share it with good friends. As I walked on, the sensation bloomed: I felt grateful for you, the visitors to this page, who came to journey alongside us, and, with us, support Sharlie on her arduous trek toward a normal life. And I felt gratitude that our hikes and climbs, and the positive energies you and we send her, might in some small way make her journey easier. Above 10,000 feet along the Methuselah Loop, one must draw the oxygen-poor air deep into the lungs in order simply to walk with a pack. But thin as the air is there, it is clean and cool, like a drink of cold water. I imagined … that each deep, chest-expanding draught of air I inhaled I shared with Sharlie. Soon, though, I realized the self-centeredness of that thought and realized that every breath our whole team took, we shared with Sharlie. And finally, hiking through the warming sun and the cooling shade amidst the wisdom of the ancient wood and the pungent hope of the soft, new, green pine needles, I understood that you, we, I—we all are breathing for Sharlie and expanding her chest and filling her heart with promise. 8/10/2011: The Climb! We made it! On August 10, our team of six hikers—Ric Mazey, Kathleen Cobb, Maria Brophy, Sam Kempton, and my son-in-law Allen Oskoui—dayhiked Mt. Whitney, at 14,508', the highest mountain in the Lower 48 (that's right: new methods of measuring place the peak 3' higher than we thought it was last year! I’ll have to adjust our donation goal!). Food poisoning, a back issue, and various altitude-related maladies such as dizziness and headache slowed progress for some, but the guts (pun intended) and character of our climbers prevailed, and we completed the 22-mile climb and descent in 22 hours and 24 minutes, leaving trailhead at 2:15 a.m. and hiking much of the trail—up at the beginning and down at the end—in the dark. All in all, it was a grand adventure with great people, and, believe it or not, most of us will do it again if we get half a chance! Even for this old packhorse, each breath up the switchbacks and across the scree slopes and the snowfield that serve as gatekeepers to the final path to the peak came hard. But the effort lost significance to me when I turned my thoughts to Sharlie breathing every life-giving breath through a narrow tube. My team reached Mt. Whitney’s summit. Now, it’s my goal to help Sharlie to hers. Just as she and her family can’t quit the climb … you and I can’t let up. Even if you’ve already donated, please consider donating again when you are once again able. Forward the link to this site to at least one contact you think Sharlie’s quest may inspire. Facebook us, Tweet us. Please help in any way you can as we move step by step to our donation goal of one dollar for every foot of Mt. Whitney’s elevation—14,508’. As soon as I can, I will forward an update on Sharlie’s status. Thank you for staying tuned. My best to YOU! And thank you again for your generous support. Steve 8/18/2011: Message from Sharlie’s Brother Dax Hi Steve, First off, congratulations on getting another group to Whitney. It sounds like you all had quite an adventure (again). Being rejected by Stanford for the double lung transplant was quite a blow to Sharlie, as well as to all of us. They told her that since her heart now resides somewhere near her armpit (everything shifted due to the collapsed lung about ten years ago), that she will need a double lung and heart transplant. We have all done some research and are looking at Duke for this procedure. Stanford may also be willing to do the double lung/heart transplant. Both hospitals are reviewing Sharlie's case this week, so we'll know more by next week. I know that Sharlie is working on a blog update that I'm sure will go into more detail about her current situation. She is an amazing woman and has handled these setbacks with determination and positivity. Truly inspiring. Thanks for your concern, and for helping out her cause. Dax 8/22/2011: Message from Collette—Sharlie’s Mom Dear family, and friends who feel like family... So many of you have asked me to keep you updated on Sharlie's transplant I've put together this "Sharlie's Angels" address list. Ryan has also set up a Sharlie's Angels Facebook page and Sharlie is going to be updating her blog regularly. Thank you for your patience in hearing from me and especially for your prayers in Sharlie's behalf. This evening those prayers were answered. As most of you know, Sharlie underwent intensive evaluation at Stanford Medical Center the first week in August. We expected to receive a call on Monday, August 8th accepting her and getting her officially listed. We were shocked and saddened to learn that there were doubts about accepting Sharlie—and that she would need a new heart as well as a set of lungs. The surgeons at Stanford requested all her records from 2000 on and have been studying them over the past two weeks. During this time we have been researching other centers and were particularly interested in Duke...although North Carolina is a long way away from home. The call came this evening. The team at Stanford - after studying all Sharlie's records, feel confident they can perform this complicated surgery successfully. Importantly for me, Sharlie feels very calm and peaceful about this. Although we have an evaluation scheduled at Duke, she has decided to cancel it and go with Stanford. One of Stanford's requirements is that Sharlie have two caretakers. Consequently, I will be relocating to Palo Alto with Ryan, Shar and Harrison. Ric will fly back and forth. There is much to be done to get ready...we are planning to relocate next week. The average wait time at Stanford is two months although it has been as short as two hours! We want to be there and be ready when the call comes. Stanford stressed the importance of fundraising. We don't have an exact or even approximate amount that will be needed and we're hopeful that Shar's insurance will cover much of the costs. However, it is going to be a very expensive procedure...probably a twelve hour plus surgery. The social worker at Stanford suggested we have a minimum of $100,000.00 in addition to insurance. Because you are close friends and family members, I am acutely aware of all you've already given to help fund a cure for CF. However, if you want to do more to help Sharlie and Ryan, you can post the link to this page on your Facebook pages or send it to the people on your address lists. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unfailing love and support. This burden would be impossible to bear without your strength lifting and supporting us. Love, love, love ... Collette 10/10/2011: Latest Word Just got a call from Collette. Please click on the Updates link in the left column. Steve
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