NEW JERSEY (PIX11) – Jim Raffone, of Manalapan, New Jersey, took some giant steps to accomplish a fundraising goal.
It took him and three colleagues six days to climb 9,600 feet of Mount Everest to base camp about 18,000 feet above sea level. That’s not the summit but it’s pretty high, especially for a guy who never climbed anything before.
Raffone did it as a fundraiser for his charity, Jar of Hope. He and his charity colleagues are trying to raise a total of $750,000 to fund a clinical trial at the University of Florida in the hope of finding a cure for the rare fatal disease Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It robs sufferers of their muscle strength and usually kills them in their early 20s. His 13-year-old son, Jamesy, has it. The climb raised 24% of the total they need, about $180,000.
For Jim, it was an amazing experience. “It was everything that you would think it would be,” he told Dan Mannarino and Hazel Sanchez on the PIX11 Morning News. “It was excruciating, extremely difficult but at the same time extremely beautiful.”
He and his party also accomplished another feat, doing ten pushups at base camp. He calls that extra effort excruciating because of the lack of oxygen so high up.
“It was almost like you had a bag over your head trying to breathe in air. It was extremely tough. But we did those pushups for all the children who cannot do pushups suffering from Duschene,” Raffone said.
In the end, the group spent too much time at base camp with its thin atmosphere. Raffone said his blood oxygen level dropped to 64% when it should be in the upper 90s. He had to be brought down to a lower camp.
Despite the ordeal of the climb, Raffone has his next fundraising effort already planned. He will be running 160 miles through three New Jersey counties next month in a partnership with Manasquan Bank.
If you would like information about Jar of Hope or would like to make a donation, go to jarofhope.org