Murray, Zizipho Ndwala, Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, Rajesh Durbal, Kevin Waller and Dylan
We did it! The most
incredible sports event for me ever. The
entire team completed the trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro—the highest
free standing mountain in the world.
The athletes participating were more than world class—three
had only leg; one had no legs and only one arm; one had no arms and two had
only one functional arm following traumatic injuries. Yet their spirit, sense of humor,
determination, persistence and incredible physical and mental strength was
We spent five days slowly acclimatizing while sleeping in
tents on lava stones and in sleeping bags—with no toilet facilities, running
water or opportunities to bathe. The day
of the summit we started out in pitch darkness at 4:30 a.m. It took 11 hours to reach the summit with a
spectacular view of Kenya and the distant Serengeti plain. Pole,
pole (slowly, slowly) was our mantra from 14,000 to 19,000 feet, one step
at a time and then a breath because of the hypoxia—half the amount of oxygen in
the air compared to sea level.
joy and satisfaction of reaching the summit with the most incredible team with
which I’ve ever been associated was overwhelming and worth the sacrifices. Truly they demonstrated that one’s altitude
figuratively and literally is determined by one’s attitude.
Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, M.D., is a UPMC neurosurgeon, professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and longtime team neurosurgeon to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last month, he served as the medical director for a group that included 10 people with disabilities and almost a dozen others climbing Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s tallest peaks and noted as the globe’s highest free-standing mountain.
Labels: Joseph C. Maroon, neurosurgery