The Sun Always Rises
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The Sun Always Rises
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The Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington…where do I even begin?  The morning after what would have been our first ever Sunrise Ascent, I was scheduled to get in the car solo and head down to North Carolina.  I’d accepted a nursing job at Duke University Medical Center and was bidding New Hampshire winters goodbye.  Mike, Sasha and the dog would follow a couple of weeks later after I got settled.  What a month August of 2015 was shaping up to be!

As the move got closer, I had reservations.  Mike had really started to enjoy not on the successes of his newly launched real estate career, but also the connections and community he was growing in the industry. Equally so, I was feeling such deep affinity, and incredible good fortune, for the community I was finding in Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country.

In 2013, a nursing school classmate strongly urged me to reach out to Adaptive Sports Partners after asking me how Sasha was doing.  I expressed that her hyperactivity was a huge challenge, but outdoor recreation, which I thought her stamina and energy levels would benefit from, were out of reach, especially due to her severe cognitive delays and lack of safety awareness.  She talked to me in detail of an organization I’d never heard of and, while I found myself skeptical that Sasha could actually engage, I was curious to at least learn more.  I picked up the phone to call the founding Director of ASPNC, Sandy Olney.

I was overwhelmingly impressed with the thorough intake process and knowledge that Sandy exhibited in our phone call, along with the vast array of sports and equipment Sasha could be exposed to.  It felt incredibly adventurous but with safety as a core tenet.  Since I had been a hiking enthusiast in college 15 years prior, we decided that hiking would be a great place to start.  That first magical hike together with Sasha led to a conversation about the Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington.  I was enthralled and knew I wanted that experience for us both. 

In the spring of 2015, I started weekly hikes with ASP as part of their seasonal programming while Sandy began building the first “Team Sasha”, reaching out to many veteran volunteers so we’d have a strong, seasoned and knowledgeable crew.    We grew to well over 20 teammates, some of whom I would not meet until the morning of the big hike.  It was such an exciting time of renewal, a whole world had opened up to us both.  Sasha was included in a community of outdoor enthusiasts who wanted her to experience the beauty of the outdoors and spirit of adventure just like anyone else.  The selflessness and genuine commitment of these remarkable individuals overwhelmed me.  About 10 days before the Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington in 2015, I reached out to Duke University asking if I could push out my start date.  I needed more time to wash through what I was leaving behind and to honor the remarkable experience Sasha was about to have.   Duke understandably said “no”, that my start date was non-negotiable.  I took that as my sign to stay put and explore much more with Adaptive Sports Partners and the new community of special friendships that would blossom for many years to come. 

We’ve successfully hiked 5 out of our 8 Sunrise Ascents since then, each year building a new team of incredible strangers and seeing many familiar faces alongside Sasha.  Watching the sun come up from virtually the same exact spot of the mountain each and every year never tires.  During those four or so hours, time and the world stand still.  Now I am quite the talkative one, but there is always a moment during our climb when the “clip-clop” of our hiking shoes fall into unison, and I quietly marvel at the commitment of these 20 – 30 people giving all of their tremendous energy and time for Sasha and I to experience the unparalleled.

 I will forever tell people the Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington was my first, and so far sole, “Maslow Moment”…a peak experience psychologist Maslow speaks of that is a quest, whether conscious or not, for us to fully develop as human beings.

This year, as Sasha’s stamina started to wane and her daily presentations became highly varied, I knew deep in my gut that we needed to take a hiatus from the Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington.  We will be there in spirit, fundraising and cheering with the same enthusiasm we always have for the beloved organization that feels like home. 

ABOUT 2024 Sunrise Ascent on Mt. Washington

Help our teams to accomplish their Sunrise Ascent Summit Fundraising Goal of $6,288.00!

Name Date Amount Comments
Sarah Donovan 07/24/2024 $27.17 Happy Birthday Sasha!!! Love, The Donovan family
Michelle & Derek Zhe-Ormond 07/23/2024 $27.45 Happy birthday, Sasha!
Nancy and John Rapoport 07/17/2024 $50.00 Sasha, you have enriched our lives.
William Charles ONeill 06/09/2024 $200.00 Fly the flag!
Carole Elliott 06/06/2024 $26.00 Happy birthday Sasha!
Susan Chapin 06/06/2024 $26.00 Sending love from Florida!
Rick & Sue Gordon 06/06/2024 $260.00 Supporting one of the most remarkable families we know - Joanne, Mike, Sarah and Nika....we love you!
Joanne Cortese 06/06/2024 $50.00 We love you Sasha! You are truly blessed๐Ÿ’•
Shari Marquis 06/06/2024 $78.00 Happy Birthday Sasha! ๐Ÿ’œ
Britta Schletter 06/06/2024 $260.00 Happy Birthday Sasha! ๐Ÿ’—
Mark Lingle 06/05/2024 $260.00 All the best, Joanne. Happy Birthday, Sasha! Blessings, Mark
Jared Small 06/05/2024 $100.00 Happy 26th Birthday Sasha, we are ready to get back on the mountain when you are!
Nicole Whyte 06/05/2024 $26.00  
  Total $1,390.62  
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