After suffering a setback in October, the Oceanside/Island Park Herald 2017 Person of the Year, John Fellin, will be scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa on March 6 while raising money for cancer research.
Fellin, 62, who has been fundraising with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, was forced to postpone his planned climb of the nearly 20,000-foot peak when, during training, he was dealt with a knee injury. Now, after weeks of physical therapy, and hundreds of miles of additional training by bike, Fellin said he is ready to go. His son John Jr., 34, will join him. Together, they have raised more than $82,000, and Fellin said he hopes to reach his goal of $100,000 by the trip.
“We’ll be on the mountain a total of eight and a half days,” Fellin told the Herald by phone while he finished his training at a winter home in Florida. “My biggest fear on the mountain is altitude illness because it doesn’t matter how much training you’ve done or how in shape you are.”
Fellin added that he and his son would have to be extra careful to ensure they don’t succumb to the sickness, which has symptoms that include severe headaches and nausea. “We have to monitor our vitals every morning,” he said. “Once you get over 15,000 feet it’s a danger zone.”
“The other problem is going to be the cold,” Fellin explained. “We’re probably gonna have minus zero degree weather, with an ice blanket at the top of the mountain. We’ll be dealing with the cold 24 hours a day.”
But despite the hardship, Fellin said it is worth it, especially in light of the rapid advances in cancer treatment in recent years, advances he said are thanks to the millions of dollars raised annually for research into cures. “People think that once you get a cancer diagnosis you’re going to die,” Fellin said. “But more and more people are living longer and healthier lives.”
“That’s the importance of this climb,” he added. “It’s not about Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s not about me. It’s about funding this research and hopefully finding a cure.”
If you would like to donate, check Fellin’s fundraising page at pages.teamintraining.org/li/mtklmjr18/jfellincg7