Our Turn: The Seven Summits
On Sept. 24, 2013 our school (NCSS) gathered as a high school and talked about a woman named Lori Schneider. She has been to all seven continents and has climbed the seven tallest peaks in the world which are Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mt. Aconcagua in South America, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Denali/Mt. McKinley in North America, Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia, Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Mt. Everest in Asia; she did all of this while having Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Multiple Sclerosis is a disorder that takes over the central nervous system. The central nervous system is made up of the brain, the spinal cord and the optic nerves. The symptoms that may occur depend on the person; all people have different symptoms and no two people are alike with MS. A couple of examples of some symptoms of MS are dizziness, trouble walking, vision loss, bladder problems, etc.
As a group we talked about how climbing a mountain could be a metaphor. We said that the mountain could be a metaphor for things like life, achievement, overcoming fears, becoming more self-confident, trying new things, etc. Then, we talked about a quote that was once said by Sir Edmund Hillary: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” We discussed how the ‘mountain’ could represent different things for different people. For example, people have different goals that they want to accomplish in life, such as graduating high school, college, working at their dream job, or overcoming a disability.
Around 11:15 we left school to go to Nicolet College to hear Lori talk about her achievements and struggles while climbing the highest peaks on seven continents. It all started when Lori climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa with her dad and from there on she decided to climb them all. She was an elementary school teacher for 20 years. When she was 43 years old she was diagnosed with MS. When she found out she had MS she quit her job as a teacher and decided to follow her dreams and climb the highest peaks on the seven continents; she wanted to show everyone that she could do it while having MS. She was the first person to conquer climbing all the seven summits with MS; it was hard and there was a lot of work that had to be done before she could go and climb the mountains.
My personal experience with MS is with my cousin. She was diagnosed with MS when she was 20 years old. She dropped out of the surgical technician program she was in because she started having extreme episodes of dizziness and trouble walking as a result of the dizziness. She knew that being a surgical technician was not an option so she continued on to become a medical assistant. Since then she has had many challenges that she has had to deal with. She had to quit her job and lost her ability to drive. I think the most difficult challenge she has been dealing with has been more recently discovered. MS not only affects people with physical abilities but it can cause cognitive problems. Being a college graduate to now finding even some of the simplest tasks difficult, such as memory, concentration, and being able to retrieve information can make her appear uneducated which is very disturbing to her.
Although, MS can create many challenges in life it is important to learn everyday how to make adjustments in order to live life to the fullest. I appreciate the things that I have learned from the presentation about Lori climbing the seven summits despite having MS. Having a personal connection to someone with MS has made me appreciate the things that my cousin has done in life in order to succeed. MS may cause many obstacles but people that have it can choose to overcome its challenges and become stronger people, just like Lori and my cousin have chosen to do.