The “10 Mountains 10 Years” project began raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s on Mont Blanc in 2006 with a team of 9 international climbers called “the Regulars”. It has since grown to become one of the largest awareness projects of its kind. To date “10 Mountains 10 Years” has gained nearly 500 team mates, and inspired a number of off-shoot awareness projects. It has also been the subject of a feature film documentary called “10 Mountains 10 Years” featuring Leeza Gibbons.
Although teammates are representing charity organizations in their own countries, here in the USA the “Ambassador Project” is raising awareness for Leeza’s Care Connection. Leeza Gibbons is a “10 Mountains 10 Years” teammate from Mount Washington (2010). Leeza’s Care Connection is a community gathering place for all types of caregivers.
Simone says, “Everyone who has joined us has come voluntarily, paying their own way, and cultivating their own grassroots awareness effort among their peers. Essentially the project acts as a platform for each teammate to champion the aspects of these diseases which they feel is most important to them, that could be research, caregiving, public policy or even diet & fitness which is becoming increasingly important to patients”
“The mountain is more than physical, it’s a metaphor for reaching goals in health, personal achievement, research, and in finding cures.” said Enzo Simone. “Once a person understands their role in conquering these diseases, the effort becomes clear. We’re not doctors, researchers, politicians, or other health officials. We’re patients and family of those affected, so our role is as advocates & activists, and this puts us on the front line of this battle to save ourselves and our family. Our goal with the 10 Mountains 10 Years Ambassador Project is to unite people from around the world to stand for themselves, represent themselves, climb mountains and conquer these diseases”.
This project gives advocates, caregivers and those struggling with disease the chance to face the mountain as a challenge they can work toward winning. They see the Andes Mountains and the Inca Trail as the physical form of everything that challenges their lives at the moment and say “If I can conquer this and make it to the ancient city of Machu Picchu then I can conquer anything in life. Nothing is impossible and if I can do this then science can find the cures we seek.” In the months leading up to the climb they will eat properly and train to improve their health, which will also improve their chances of going the 45 kilometers through the Andes to Machu Picchu. They will also engage public news & social media in their own personal Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s awareness campaigns.
Essentially they become ambassadors of the cause from their own local communities to those they meet from other communities around the world.
It is estimated that 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. Unless a cure is found, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s in the USA could range from 11.3 million to 16 million by 2050. Around the world the number of people struggling with Alzheimer’s is estimated at 44 million. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the USA, it cannot be prevented or slowed and there is no cure.
Today an estimated 7 to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease, and 40% of those people are under the age of sixty. Over the course of this year 60,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the USA. There is also no cure for Parkinson’s.
Goals of the Ambassador Project:
- To unite & conquer Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s disease.
- To raise awareness for both Alzheimer s & Parkinson s Disease by focusing attention on each sharing advocates personal experiences with both the local and the global community.
- To create a sense of comradery among advocates, patients & caregivers around the world. Instilling the feeling that regardless of nationality, race, and religion we are all in this great quest to find the cures together.
- To climb with 35 Alzheimer’s / Parkinson’s patients and advocates through the Andes Mountains, down the Inca Trail and into the ancient city of Machu Picchu on the 106th anniversary of its discovery.
To learn more about the 10 Mountains 10 Years – Ambassador Project
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