by Rachel Morris
No more than 10 people are allowed to climb as a group in the Whites, and the inaugural Washington trip is capped, filled with an intriguing mix of people, from our web designer, Jenifer, an experienced hiker whose recent musings about Washington can be found here, to our film producer, Kat, and her team. She’s coordinating the crew working on the first of what we hope is many professional film shorts we’re developing. Carrie, the 2020 hikes coordinator, is lead on this one, though I realize I’m not sure who her second is. They always hike with a leader and a second, in case the party needs to split up for any reason. Kara, our business manager, is up there, as are, of course, Randy, the Mighty Quinn (good thing four paws don’t make him count twice), and Tracy, who does double duty as 2020’s manager of finance and social media coordinator (triple duty, if you count the recent addition of her role as fiancée).
We’ve been planning the 2020 project for what seems like both a long time and no time at all – development meetings, both face to face and virtual, extensive phone conversations, thousands of emails, a wiki behind the scenes to track our many programs (adeptly coordinated by our project manager, Kim), publicity and marketing to consider (managed by Jim, with a strong initial boost thanks to Jennifer’s hard work), and, of course, discussions about our focus and core philosophies: How do we go about fulfilling our mission statement? Inspire. Educate. Challenge. Support.
These are lofty goals, and they are ones we take seriously, both for ourselves and for those who follow along and get involved in 2020, directly or indirectly.
Would I like to be on that mountain with the team? Absolutely. Going into this project, however, I knew that I have my own challenges to overcome. I haven’t been truly in shape since I bike toured parts of Europe as a teenager. Added to that, I’ve been battling my third extended case of Lyme over the course of two years’ time, and am coming to terms with some big shifts in my life after selling a business I’d been responsible for nearly a decade. I’m not ready to climb mountains. Yet.
But this project IS about inspiration, and it’s hard to be around Randy and Quinn and not be inspired. And it’s not just Randy, but everyone involved – each of the amazing individuals I’m honored to work with brings new inspiration to me, whether through their skill set, work ethic, creativity, or enthusiasm. Education? I’ve never felt so behind on my homework as working with this crew. Each and every day, I learn something new from someone on the project – tools I can use in my everyday life and work. Support? You betcha. This team backs each others’ plays like, well, how can I not say it…the Patriots back Brady. And all this during pre-season!
I’ve set my own lofty goal for the 2020 team and for myself, as fundraising manager: I want to raise enough to help raise a guide dog per mountain Randy climbs, so that 48 other people can experience the amazing world expanding opportunities a dog like Quinn provides. It costs roughly $45,000 to raise such a pup, and that cost isn’t passed on to the owners – it’s all through donations and grants and so on, so this is no small challenge. But that’s my challenge to the team and to our supporters. It’s not the one that’s foremost on my mind today.
Today, we’re officially done with pre-season and nearing kickoff of game one today – the Washington climb. The 10 member hike team is checking their packs one last time, going over the lists that have been made, taking a practice hike to stay limber and warmed up for tomorrow…and I find that the challenge has been set before me, after all.
I realize I don’t want to be ground crew for all 47 of the mountains yet to come…I need to figure out how to achieve through my own adversities and climb. It may not be this year, but perhaps the next, when I’m ready to see Quinn in action live, and hit the trails not only vicariously, but as part of one of the Team 2020 hike crews. Working with a team like this, I can’t fail. Ground control to Major Quinn…commencing countdown…engine’s on.