They have suffered life-threatening injuries, undergone countless surgeries and endured painful physical rehabilitation. Now eight burn survivors, including 11- and 12-year-old girls, are coming together to face one more challenge: Climbing the highest peak in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro.
They are part of a “Courage Rising” campaign sponsored by the Valleywise Health Foundation to show that burn survivors can accomplish anything and to support the new Arizona Burn Center at Valleywise Health in Phoenix, Arizona. They will join medical professionals from the burn center and supporters in climbing Mount Kilimanjaro June 13-26.
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Individual climbers are “paying it forward” by raising money for the Arizona Burn Center – Valleywise Health.
• 11-year-old Isla Cook— a gymnast who suffered burns over 46 percent of her body from a propane tank accident. She will be hiking with her mother, Aly.
• 12-year-old Isabella McCune of Phoenix – her inspirational story captured the attention of pop star Taylor Swift.
• Phoenix Fire Capt. and high school swim coach Susie Fawcett — burned in 1998 while fighting a structure fire.
• Peoria teacher Christin Lipinski — survived flesh-eating bacteria.
• Renowned “mommy blogger” Stephanie Nielson, and her husband, Christian — their remarkable recovery from a horrific 2008 plane crash led to a New York Times best-selling book and national television appearances.
• Jason Nelson – critically burned in 2014 after his Gilbert home exploded from a gas leak.
• Hailey Boyce, who, at 17, suffered severe burns in a vaping accident.
“Christian and I had to climb some pretty steep mountains in the burn center with some pretty amazing doctors, nurses, and staff by our sides keeping us alive and cheering us on,” Stephanie Nielson said. “Climbing Kilimanjaro with those same people, and other burn survivors, will bring us full circle in our recovery. This time we’re climbing a mountain that we can choose to climb, and we’ll be cheering each other on. We’re so excited to conquer this mountain and prove to the world that our scars can’t hold use back.”
Learn more: courage-rising.org