Shawn O'Neil & Renee Pepsin

Climbing Through the Clouds
Saturday, March 03
Shawn and Renee
My favorite part of flying has always been the climb up through the clouds. No matter what the weather is on the ground, once you hit cruising altitude, it's bright and sunny, and the views are worth the anxiety of takeoff. Today it's 39,000 feet out of JFK Airport on a Etihad A380-800 bound for Abu Dhabi and let's just say a 5-star hotel on wheels!

For Renee and I, this has truly been an amazing year in the making, drawing us closer together by the day! I'd say an amazing journey, but there is so much yet to come. See, for the last year, this trip has been like the plane ride. I can still remember the pure excitement in Renee's voice when I told her MM4MM had responded to our online application. I also remember the tears that flowed sitting at the dining room table when Alicia finally asked us to join them on the trek! We needed a minute as we remembered all those that we lost and those who continue to fight daily. We now get to do this for them! Pure joy! I chuckle looking back, as that thought was quickly followed up with the sheer terror of actually now believing we were going to Everest Base Camp. Holy crap! This is happening! That, to me, was the lift off!

So, let's fast forward a little, as we all trained, lifted and sweated along the way, hoping to get ourselves ready for the trek. June came, and it was time for our training hike in Colorado! The hike itself was awesome, but the individuals we had the privilege of meeting and becoming friends with is what continued to make this flight climb! Renee and I have interacted and met thousands of people through business and travel, but this group, this group is special! You can tell when there is a special energy in someone - something that just draws you to them. Every member of our team has IT! I say IT, because there is never just one thing you can put your finger on, you just know. And so we continue to climb.

And now we are close - so close you can taste it! It's what we have all been waiting and diligently training for over the last year. Our Facebook pages are now blowing up; has the donation bell ringing; and new articles and even TV interviews are coming out daily about the upcoming trek to Everest Base Camp! And this group, that Renee and I are totally in awe over, sits just $13,000 from raising $400,000.000. Let's just say we all like to set the bar high!

No one can predict how this trip will go, the challenges we will face or the adventures we will share. But one thing is for sure: Together we will succeed, together we will endure and together we will fight to get every member of our team to Base Camp! Seven members of our team have faced much greater challenges, many of us will fight again for the loved ones we supported who just couldn't fight anymore, and others are the magicians and wizards who create the magic potions and spells to help keep this awful disease at bay!

So now that we are packed, in flight and cruising through the clouds, the sky is clearing, the sun is starting to set and the anxiety that has built over a year has now settled! It's time to enjoy the flight, make once-in-a-lifetime memories, celebrate this warrior team's journey, but never ever lose focus of why we are here. Right now, at 39,000 feet, it's looking like clear sailing for this team!

For Renee and I, we packed a few castaways for the trip and know Jackie, Frank and Ken will enjoy the ride! We know you are here!
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View our interviews with climber Chuck Wakefield