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Surviving cancer is 'all about the climb'

During the inaugural Climb for Cure event last year, Bryce Hanover, now 13, sits with his peers after making his way up a mountain at Gunstock. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
July 06, 2011
As part of her mission to spread awareness and find a cure for childhood cancer, Gilford resident Sharon Wells will launch the second annual Climb for Cure event this September at Gunstock.

Wells is a fitness instructor, affiliated with Gunstock, and loves to mountain climb. She started up this event, where participants can hike or bike to the top of a mountain, in memory of her son, Nicholas Palisi, who passed away due to a Medulloblastoma brain tumor before the age of seven.

The climb will help her son's memory live on, and will also help increase the awareness of childhood cancer in support of local families who have battled, and are currently battling, cancer. At this year's event, proceeds will be donated to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute-Jimmy Fund, New England's largest children's cancer center.

A percentage of proceeds will also go to the Sawyer family, whose 11-year-old son, Joey, is currently battling brain cancer. Last year, a percentage of proceeds went to the Hanover family, in honor of Bryce, 13, also receiving cancer treatment.

More than 100 participants attended the Climb for Cure event last year, scheduled again for September 2011 in honor of local families who have been affected by cancer. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
Wells knows all too well that treatment often takes a toll on families financially, and can be an emotionally draining and physically demanding experience.

"This event was inspired by my son, who had a brain tumor and went through treatment for a year and a half. My family had gone through a lot of devastation with cancer. The community of Gilford supported us and came together. Through this, I've realized what it's like to really give," said Wells. "My son didn't survive. I'm involved with fitness, and started climbing during his treatment. For me, climbing represents overcoming obstacles."

She feels that Gunstock is the perfect fit for the event, and for anyone who would like to run and walk up the mountain this year or make a donation to support childhood cancer research and awareness.

"If one person shows up, it's a success in my opinion, although we had over 100 participants show up last year. We raised a good amount of funds last year, but I am looking to raise more funds and do more pledges. I'm looking for as much help as I can, and for volunteers, sponsors, or participants," said Wells.

She plans to hold the grassroots event for years to come, and feels that in the small town of Gilford, far too many families have already been affected by cancer. Now that one child in town has been diagnosed with the same brain tumor as her own son, Wells is even more set on helping find a cure.

"It's about having fun and supporting the kids and giving, since someday, there could be a cure. My life has changed 100 percent since my son passed away, and I wanted to do my part. This is an inspiring event, and encourages locals to climb with the rest of their community," said Wells. "Every little bit counts."

Over the years, Wells would like to see the event grow to the caliber of related events such as St. Baldrick's Day, and feels the prospect of climbing a mountain for the cure is an original idea in town.

"It's a chance to support the community, do physical activity with your family, and get a view at the top of the mountain," said Wells, who is taking a negative situation and creating something positive. "My biggest message is that cancer never goes away, and neither does the feeling of losing a child. I think about my son every day."

She added that while adult cancer is deemed as more prevalent, more advancements have been made in various and innovative treatments. She would like to see childhood cancer research go down this same path.

For more information on the Climb for Cure event, scheduled for Sept. 25, visit climbforcure.org or contact Wells at 520-6160.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Littleon Food Coop
Littleon Food Coop
Town of Barnsted
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