Mary Gilbride

Lifelong Memories
Thursday, August 23
The moment that I laid eyes on Iceland as the flight was landing, I knew it was going to be an extraordinary place. We were all delayed getting there, but once we were reunited, it was like the stress and worry lifted as we were all together again. All the chatting and prepping for the trek was now becoming a reality! 

On Day 1, as we were on our way to Thorsmork on the bus, the excitement was palpable. All of us were wide-eyed and taking in the ever-changing landscape, and of course, having a load of laughs along the way. 

We got to our first mountain hut and it all became very real. Here we are! Our team together and ready. It was a true feeling of love and pride for all that we had worked so hard for. Iceland gave us some truly incredible, warm, sunny weather and views. Day 1 on the trail ended with a family-style dinner fit for what we had become: a family. 

Day 2 was filled with more sweeping gorgeous views than anyone could ever put into words, and also the “Cat Spine.” When we got to this narrow, uneven, very steep pass, some seemed to float over it with grace and beauty and some of us started shaking and being emotionally tested to the limit. But we all made it. And like a family, those who were strong in the moment were there the entire time for those who needed help. I remember looking up and seeing the faces of everyone who had gone before me, cheering and helping. If you’ve ever come face first with a phobia, you know how intense it can be. 

Day 2 also gave us a sign that what we were doing was so much bigger than our team. We were on a foggy plateau. Honestly, it looked like we were walking on the surface of the moon. We’d decided to take a moment to place stones together (called a cairn), each team member placing a stone in honor of those special to them affected by myeloma. No sooner did we do that, the fog lifted, and the sun came out revealing the most amazing views. There was no doubt that it wasn’t just coincidence. You could feel the pure love and energy all around us. 

We ended the day on the top of the world in a tiny little mountain hut nestled between two glaciers. Picture 20 people in a house the size the Ingalls’ family had in Little House on the Prairie. Here’s the thing, it was incredible! Take away all the bells and whistles of modern life and add a team of people who were already close. We bonded for life. It is truly one of those moments we can all think back to a smile when life gets stressful or sad. 

The third day was a nice break for our legs and it was mostly downhill filled with the most incredible waterfalls. I found myself tearing up a few times just feeling the joy of being with these incredible people. Knowing we were out there, and we were making a difference. 

I went into this for my mom. The woman whose legs I’d hid behind as a painfully-shy child. My shelter through all the storms. I came out of this with lifelong memories and 18 people who I love with all my heart. I think of them many times a day and cannot wait until we are reunited once again.

We will continue to fight and make our voices heard until there is a cure. Until no one has to hold their breath waiting for the “numbers” to come back okay. And to Jen, Brian, Rich, Barbara and Emily…you are incredible. The strength and positivity you brought to Iceland shows there’s no stopping the human spirit from accomplishing ANYTHING.
Gearing Up
Monday, July 30
Have you ever had something just call to you from deep inside? That is the Fire and Ice Trek to me. Something was pulling me toward this. I knew I needed to help. I needed to be part of finding a cure for multiple myeloma. For my mom. For the other patients. For EVERYONE who has ever been affected by this terrible disease.  

I had applied to be part of the team and was accepted, which set into motion a life changing turn of events. I was scared to tell my mom that I was taking on such an endeavor in her honor. What if I couldn’t do it? Doubt was looming over me. But when I told her, the look of happiness and pride made all those doubts fade quickly. I was a woman on a mission and wouldn’t be stopped! I was going to raise those funds needed to help find a cure!

Then when our team met for our training hike in May, it was like a perfect match of amazing people had found each other with one common goal. We were all on the same mission. We’ve been in constant contact since that hike, encouraging one another and sharing our lives. All of us are excited to be reunited again.

So here we are. Two weeks away. Iceland is calling for us. The gear list is now being checked off and items are being packed up. “Plan for all four seasons in one day” and “waterproof” – those are our guiding words. And we will be ready.  

So, why Iceland? Volcanoes, glaciers and all four seasons in one day. It kind of sums up life. It’s unpredictable, breathtaking, harsh, beautiful, tumultuous, profound, treacherous and one unbelievable adventure.    
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