What if by climbing a mountain you could experience a day in the life of your best friend as he fights a complex life-threatening disease? You would know the same shortness of breath after walking a few steps, the same fatigue, dizziness and throbbing neck veins that your friend lives with every day, symptoms of a destructive disease that currently has no cure.
Beginning on July 10, 2009, Matthew Moniz and a core team of five climbers will do just that. The team plans to climb fourteen of Colorado’s famed 14,000 foot peaks, commonly known as the “14ers”, in a short fourteen days to cover a total of 36,846, vertical feet and 65 miles. This “14 Fourteeners in Fourteen Days” breath-taking endeavor will give each of the climbers a first-hand sense of a typical day in the life of a patient with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH).
A Boulder, Colorado native, Matt first became aware of this destructive disease when his best friend, Iain Hess, was diagnosed with PAH in 2006. Matt and Iain are as close as brothers, growing up as next door neighbors on a beautiful promontory in Boulder Canyon. Unfortunately for the two, as a result of Iain’s condition his family was left with no choice but to move to a new home at a lower altitude.
Matt conceived this climb to raise awareness of the devastating effects of this Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension after his December 2008 ascent of Cerro Aconcagua (22,841 ft), the highest peak in the Americas and tallest point in the Western hemisphere. Matt, who at the age of 10 became the youngest climber to reach the summit of Cerro Aconcagua, remembers the struggle to breathe and the fight for every step once he ascended over 14,000 feet. He knew this was the battle that Iain fought daily.
In addition to climbing Aconcagua, Matt has also reached the highest points of Europe (Mount Elbrus 18,510 ft) and Africa (Mount Kilimanjaro 19,340). In 2007 at nine years of age Matt trekked through the Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp.
PAH is a rare blood vessel disorder of the lung in which the pressure in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs) rises above normal levels and may become life threatening. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include shortness of breath with minimal exertion, fatigue, chest pain, dizzy spells and fainting. Currently, while there are treatment options, there is currently no known cure for this disease.
1. To raise the public understanding of the devastating effects of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). Pulmonary hypertension is a rare blood vessel disorder of the lung in which the pressure in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs) rises above normal levels and may become life threatening. Symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include shortness of breath with minimal exertion, fatigue, chest pain, dizzy spells and fainting.
2. To increase awareness of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. Create opportunities for the PHA to further their mission of building and strengthening a community of hope through research, education, advocacy and awareness and to seek a cure for PH.
3. Help support the passage of the Tom Lantos PH Research and Education Act of 2009 (H.R. 1030). Encourage the public to contact their elected representatives asking them to support this important legislation.
4. To encourage corporate sponsorship of the 14/3 Climb. The Sponsor-a-Peak Program will seek to raise $14,000 for the Iain Hess Fund to help enhance Iain’s quality of life and chance for a cure.