Local adventurers climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for children's cancer research
Beating brain cancer with a big climb
6:37 PM, Jul 26, 2013
4:33 PM, Jul 27, 2013
TAMPA - Michael Harrington and Dave Emerson-- both Jabil employees - are training for an adventure.
Next week, they along with a team of six others, will climb 19,341 feet to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Emerson said, "At my age, it will definitely be a challenge."
This will be Michael's second trip. He's going again at the request of his young son Thomas. "I wanted to do it when I was 12, but he said I was too young."
Michael finally promised his son they'd hike to the rooftop of Africa - together - after doctors removed a large cancerous mass from Thomas' brain. Tom said, "I think right before surgery we talked about it. I said, dad, once this is over can we do something special."
The operation was risky. Did Michael fear losing Thomas? "Absolutely."
Thomas survived - now cancer free - thanks in large part, Michael said, to the folks at Jabil who rallied around him. "They made sure Tom got to the best hospitals, and they assisted us with finding the correct doctors."
Emerson said, "With these big companies, I still think there's a nucleus and you can still have a family environment, no matter how big the company is."
There's another twist to this story. You might wonder how a young man only a year out of brain surgery could be cleared medically to climb nineteen thousand feet. His doctor, Dr. Syed Shabaz Azeem, is going with him. His brain surgeon is the brother of ABC Action News anchor Sarina Fazan and that's how we learned about this inspirational story.
Michael knows not everyone has these connections. So, he and his son have dedicated this climb to other cancer patients - fundraising - every dollar for every step - going to research.
Michael said, "Any money that is donated completely bypasses us. None of it goes to us. It goes directly to the National Brain Tumor Society for four specific children's research projects to hopefully make it so other kids don't have to go through this."