Local attorney Guy Manning has raised roughly US$100,000 on behalf of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
And he only had to battle the elements, extreme altitude, illness, diarrhea and weight loss and risk the loss of a few toes to do it.
Mr. Manning, 39, a partner at the Campbells law firm, was among a team that summited Mount Everest in May while carrying the names of 56 cancer survivors and a Cayman Islands flag, which Manning posed with at the peak, 29,035 feet above sea level.
The flag was a popular item, donated by Manning to the Breast Cancer Foundation and fetching CI$12,300 at the foundation’s annual gala and auction last month. Meanwhile, another approximately US$85,000 was raised through sponsorships – mostly corporate donations – on behalf of Mr. Manning in anticipation of the climb. Once the Cancer Society Christmas cards with photos of him on the Everest ascent go on sale this year, the total is expected to surpass US$100,000.
He may very well be the Cancer Society’s largest single fundraiser in history, outpacing even the guys who grow funny moustaches for the “MOvember” event every November.
“This mild-mannered man will have single-handedly raised more than $100,000 to help us help our financial aid patients,” said Jennifer Weber, operations manager of the Cancer Society. The society now has 68 patients, compared to the 56 Mr. Manning climbed for six months ago.
“I think that’s the most any one person has ever raised for us!” Mrs. Weber said.
It was on Sunday, May 19, at about 7.30 p.m. Cayman time when Mr. Manning, along with teammates Nacer Ibnabdeljalil and Guy Munnoch and Sherpas Dawa Gelji, Tashi and Karma, summited. Their ascent was from the Nepal side, following the trail used by Sir Edmund Hillary on the historic first climb 60 years ago.
Though Mr. Manning is an outdoor enthusiast, he said his Mount Everest fundraiser was a one-time event.
“It really was brutal,” he said, recounting seeing the body of a man who died trying to scale Everest some years ago. Two people died while Mr. Manning’s team was on the trail. Corpse removal is extremely difficult on the upper slopes of Everest, and the bodies of many of those who die on the climb are never retrieved and returned to their families.
It was probably not the easiest way to raise US$100,000, Mr. Manning admitted.
“On the way down the south side, [hiking] the last 200 yards to the tent took me at least 10 minutes,” he said. “I’ve got no reason to go back to Everest.”
Despite having come away with frostbite on both feet – now healed – Mr. Manning said he’s looking to the next climbing challenge. He has already climbed five of what are referred to as the Seven Summits – the highest summits on each of the seven continents – including Everest, Aconcagua in Argentina, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Elbrus in Russia and Vinson in Antarctica. Everest was the only one he used as a fundraising effort.
Mr. Manning’s mother had contracted breast cancer the year before, so the Cancer Society seemed like a natural fit, he said. His mother’s cancer is now in remission.
Next year he plans to mount the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia – although he’s not certain whether that will be another fundraising event for the Cancer Society. Then it’s on to the toughest mountain for Mr. Manning, McKinley in Alaska. Though peak is about 9,000 feet shy of Everest’s summit, but it has foiled Mr. Manning on two previous attempts.