With a final burst of energy, the mountain climbing team made their final push to the top of Mount Rainier.
The view was awe-inspiring. Steam rose from the volcanic crater that made up the summit, and in places the ground was warm to the touch. In the midday sun, they could see the other snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Mountains. The Pacific Ocean loomed far on the horizon.
Joey Ott took a moment to catch his breath and bask in the sight. Then, he paid tribute to the people who inspired the climb.
As Ott ascended Mount Rainier, he symbolically carried 27 people with them. At the peak of the mountain, he erected a banner covered in names, honoring those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
He and fellow Johnson County climber the Rev. Jenothy Rather had dedicated their hike to those people, to Alzheimer’s patients everywhere, and to family and friends who have been affected by the disease. In addition to scaling the 14,410-feet-high peak, they also raised money for Alzheimer’s research.
“We thought it would make it more meaningful if we made it more than about us,” Rather said. “We both love the outdoors, love hiking and camping and those kinds of things. But we wanted to do more.”