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John Waller's Aconcagua Climb for Survivors

Proceeds benefit Project Athena Foundation

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Helping Survivors Live Their Adventurous Dream

I aspire to climb Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas at 22,837 ft, in pursuit of my adventurous dream, and to provide the opportunity for future survivors of medical and traumatic setbacks to live their own audacious goals through the Project Athena Foundation.

Note:   I produced the linked video in 2020 about the Project Athena Foundation Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim Adventure, just prior to my cancer diagnosis.

In October 2020, I received a worst case scenario diagnosis of advanced Stage IV rectal cancer with metastasis in lymph nodes and liver.  I was rushed into an aggressive six month chemotherapy treatment while my life, already in dramatic upheaval from the covid pandemic, spiraled into a radical transformation.  A remarkable support system coalesced around me and I leaned into the grueling and consuming work of healing from cancer, and the chemo, radiation, and surgical treatments I would receive in the following year.  I entered a cave that seemed harrowing to crawl out of, discovering new physical and emotional lows.  Life felt precarious.

With focus, perseverance, a team of talented allopathic and homeopathic doctors, and a relentless support community, we have been able to pull me back from the abyss.  By May 2022, my cancer markers had declined to the lowest numbers I’d tested, and I was able to shift to a more tolerable maintenance chemotherapy treatment.  I joined the Project Athena San Diego Harbor to Harbor team and four days after a 3 day fast and chemotherapy infusion, was able to walk the 50 mile trek.  For the first time since my diagnosis I am able to look forward beyond what my next step will be, toward a horizon of possibility.

Since 2005, I have partnered with the Project Athena Foundation providing pro bono video and photography coverage of their events and adventures.  In that time I have met dozens of extraordinary humans overcoming major life setbacks and living their adventurous dreams.  I’ve witnessed the commitment, the struggle, the call for help, and the magic that illuminates a bold comeback.  It wasn’t the path I was expecting, but I now find myself walking in their shoes…shattered, rebuilding, and wondering what I’m capable of.  The Project Athena Foundation is sponsoring my climb of Aconcagua with Embark Exploration Co in January 2023 and I’m using this endeavor to fundraise for future sponsored survivors who will someday connect with Project Athena in hopes of living their own adventurous dream.

Climbing Aconcagua will be challenging.  At 22,837 ft, it will be the highest altitude I have ascended.  Weather is unpredictable.  And the expectation is climbers carry up to 40 lbs of equipment over the 20 day climb.  While the summit would certainly be a milestone, it represents a brief moment over a long journey.  Navigating the physical and medical gauntlet from a stage IV cancer diagnosis to arriving at Aconcagua with the strength and endurance to summit is the real achievement.  I’m excited to take on the challenge and elevate the dreams of others in pursuit of this audacious goal.

Your support and generosity is deeply appreciated.

Uncage the Soul!


Project Athena Foundation

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Project Athena Foundation

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