An innovative new fundraising event was launched this year by Mount Sinai Hospital’s Foundation called Summit for Sinai. The adventure ― led by passionate Mount Sinai supporter David Cynamon ― took place for 13 climbers and two emergency room physicians atop one of the highest mountains in the world. The climb up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in support of Mount Sinai Hospital was a huge success and has raised $1.37 million for some of the most critical needs of the Hospital.
What made this fundraising initiative unique was the donor-centered approach. Instead of pooling the donations into one area of the Hospital, each climber chose to support a specific area of care at Mount Sinai – which included the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre, the Frances Bloomberg Centre for Women’s and Infants’ Health, Mount Sinai’s highest priority needs, and biomedical research both within the Hospital and Mount Sinai’s renowned Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute. Whether the climbers had a loved one who received exceptional care at Mount Sinai, or they just understood the impact of their support on the programs provided by the Hospital, the support of these 13 adventurers will be felt by patients for years to come.
“We were quite amazed by the outpouring of support,” says Richard Pilosof, climber and Foundation Board Member. “Not only did our friends and loved ones want to support us personally, but it became quite clear that Mount Sinai is special to a lot of people. It just made us that much more dedicated to our mission.”
The climbers underwent significant training and received expert medical advice and preparation by Mount Sinai emergency room physicians, Drs. Howard Ovens and Bjug Borgundvaag, the Director and Associate Director of Mount Sinai’s Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre, respectively, who signed on to climb Kilimanjaro with the group as their medical support team.
“Having climbed Kilimanjaro once before, I knew these climbers would have to dig deep,” says Dr. Ovens. “And that’s exactly what they did – both for themselves and for Mount Sinai. I was honoured to have been a part of it.”
The expedition took place in early September, and was packed full of challenging terrain, personal reflection, and above all, steadfast commitment to conquer Kilimanjaro for Mount Sinai. The group climbed up the Machame route – the longest but most scenic route up the mountain.
“The mountain was spectacular,” says Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag. “Being able to help these gentlemen achieve their goal in a safe manner was very rewarding.”
During their ascent, the Summit for Sinai climbers came upon a young boy, who was lost, cold, hungry and dehydrated. He had traveled 40 kilometres and 10,000 feet alone in only a sweatshirt, torn pants and sandals. Drs. Ovens and Borgundvaag treated the boy for dehydration and hypothermia, and after several hours, he was well enough to be carried down the mountain and reunited with his worried family.
For the majority of the group, it was the most challenging physical feat of their lives. With the trek now officially over, the climbers are settling back into their pre-Kilimanjaro lives.
Drs. Ovens and Borgundvaag have returned to treating patients in the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Centre – where cases of oxygen deprivation are less common than on Tanzania’s mountain. However, the impact of this group, and of all those who supported these climbers, will be felt for years to come.
For more information visit: www.HYPERLINK “http://www.summitforsinai.ca” summitforsinai.ca