Katy family to climb Mt. Everest in honor of friend

March 30, 2010 7:33:38 PM PDT
A Katy father and his son are about to undertake a once in a lifetime experience. They are training four days a week to brave some of the harshest conditions on earth. Delisle Doherty is in training. So is his son Nicholas. And this is unlike any training they've ever done.

"Mostly we do strength training exercises. We do biometric exercises. We learn proper stretching so we don't strain ourselves," said Nicholas.

Because they are climbing a mountain.

"It's a pretty tall mountain," said Nicholas.

"The highest I've ever climbed is the top of Reliant Center," said Delisle.

The mountain is Everest.

"This has been one of the most strenuous things that I've ever done for myself to be honest with you," said Nicholas.

But really, Nicholas and his dad aren't doing this for themselves. They're doing it to honor the memory of Nicholas's friend Joe Ordaz, a 24-year-old who died from leukemia a year ago this month, and for the charity started in his name - the Joe Joe Bear Foundation.

"Joe Joe Bear was founded as kind of a way to pass on his legacy, and grow his legacy, and carry out his wishes," said Nicholas.

The foundation collects and gives new bears to hospitalized children. Joe Ordaz felt comfort in a bear when he struggled through treatment.

"If you've ever been around kids with cancer, even kids in the hospital, after visiting hours are over it gets a little dark, a little lonely, a little scary for the kids," said Delisle.

The foundation is growing almost exponentially it seems. In less than a year, it already provides 300 bears a month to hospitals here in the Texas Medical Center.

The hope is that this climb will raise an additional ten to twenty thousand dollars, and extend the charity's reach.

"The awareness that we're getting is just awesome. I know the donations are going to start following behind," said Jeanette Maurer of the Joe Joe Bear Foundation.

She started the foundation and took in Joe during the final months of his life, making him a part of her family when he had nowhere else to turn.

"There are other hospitals across the state that we want to be in - Dallas and San Antonio - but better yet we want to be nationwide because there are children all over the country that need teddy bears to hold," said Maurer.

And that is the focus for the Doherty's as they push themselves on a mission bigger than the mountain they plan to climb.

The Dohertys are paying for the climb themselves. It'll take place between May 3 and 18. They won't climb to the summit, but they are going as high as they can without additional oxygen - some 21,000 feet above sea level.

Above that level, climbers rely on bottled oxygen and fixed ropes to reach the summit. The higher reaches of the mountain can be extremely treacherous. The last part of the ascent goes through what is called the "death zone". Most summit attempts are made in May when the mountain has the best weather, but often sudden bad weather forces climbers to retreat without reaching the top.


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