More than a year after climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness about kidney donation, Frisco resident Jay Irwin turned his attention to the new feat of endurance and climbing.
Cooperation with the National Kidney Registry, Irwin, Dave Ashley and Jodie Haaskamp (all living kidney donors) will attempt to set a new world speed record to reach the highest point in every US state. While Irwin and the National Kidney Registry team are trying to break the current record of 43 days, 3 hours and 51 minutes, they are also trying to break the misconception that living kidney donors have physical limitations.
Irwin became a living kidney donor in November 2019 when he decided to donate one of his kidneys to his best friend Bill Petersen. Irwin had the idea of donating a kidney to Petersen. Petersen is the man who saved my life when I was caught in an avalanche while climbing. He skied at Vail Pass in 2008.
Petersen has since passed away, but his spirit will live on through Irwin and will be his driving force to climb America’s highest peak.
“It’s kind of a fun experience to be able to attend all 50 state summits, but being able to do it with two other living kidney donors is pretty special,” Irwin said.
Much like Irwin’s adventure to the summit of Kilimanjaro, Irwin and the National Kidney Registry team will face many challenges during the course of the project. Irwin said the hardest part of the project was planning the trip, making sure the team kept up the pace to break the official Guinness World Record, and setting the fastest known time (19 days, 7 hours, 17 minutes). ) It aims to climb the highest peaks in the 48 contiguous states.
“The important thing is that you can’t rest,” Mr. Irwin said. “When it comes to doing the liner on the same day as you do Mt Hood, it certainly presents some challenges. I need to rest my body for the time drive.”
Irwin said the biggest thing for him and the team to keep in mind when trying to set a new record is for everyone to take their temperature every day and regularly monitor how they are feeling on a physical and mental level. said to check with
“The important thing is to make sure you’re pushing your body, but not pushing yourself too hard,” Irwin said.
In addition to the support received from Ashley and Haaskamp, Irwin also appreciates the support from Emily Polletto Monterosso and Dr. Matthew Harmody, who climbed Kilimanjaro with him.
Poletto Monterosso and Harmody will work as the team’s drivers and support crew, trying to make the trip feel more at home.
“I’m going to play a game and I’m going to be exhausted,” Irwin said. “We need to give them the comforts of home when we get back to the RV. They make sure to have hot veggie soup or water and coffee.”
Irwin and the team kicked off the clock on May 19 at the base of Mount Denali in Alaska, beginning the quest for a new world speed record and the fastest known time. The team spent the last week acclimating to the elevation change, stopping at various hillside camps along the way.
As of Saturday morning, the team has arrived at the 17,000-foot camp, waiting for the right conditions to reach the summit.
After the team reaches the summit of Denali, they plan to fly to Hawaii and climb Mauna Kea. After Mauna Kea, the team will head back to the Mainland 48 to meet Poletto Monterosso and Dr. Harmody in their RV in Chicago.
The team follows a counterclockwise route on Lower 48, with the three climbers resting in the Midwest before heading up the long western climb. The team hopes to complete the project atop Mount Katahdin, Maine, by June 28.
“It’s going to be the latest thing we want to do that,” Irwin said. “If all goes well, we have scheduled it to be completed in as little as 21 days. It will be somewhere in between those points. I think it depends on whether we can complete it.We’ll have to see if the weather gods, the travel gods and all the people smile on us.”
In addition to setting new world speed records and fastest known times, Irwin hopes to raise awareness for living kidney donors and build lifelong bonds with fellow climbers.
“I always tell people that they can live a normal life after donating a kidney, but when I do things like this, people always laugh and say my life is not normal. ‘ said Irwin. “We are friends for life and want to finish this job with a great experience together. Most importantly, they want to experience it together.”
To follow Irwin and the National Kidney Registry team’s journey, visit the team’s Facebook page.: Facebook.com/5k50SS.