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Fencing Coach To Summit Mt. Olympus To Fight Cancer

03/23/2011, 6:58am CDT
By No Author

In 2010, Wayne Valley High School Fencing Coach Chris Awad (Pompton Plains, N.J.) climbed to the summit of Mount Baker, a heavily glaciated dormant volcano in Washington, as a dedication to fellow coaches Molly James (Somerville, N.J.) and Barbara Lynch (Morris Hills, N.J.), among others. 

Unfortunately, a few weeks after Awad’s return from Mount Baker, Lynch lost her battle with cancer.

“Barb was a big motivation the first time around and I had never thought of climbing again but if there is a chance I can help someone it’s worth it," Awad said.

This summer, Coach Awad will climb Mount Olympus in an effort to raise funds to benefit breast cancer research.

Mount Olympus is the highest peak of the Olympic Mountain Range in Washington State.  Awad’s team will adventure though Olympic National Park and embark along the Hoh River Trail through one of the few remaining temperate rainforests in the world, passing towering old growth trees, alpine lakes, and going over glaciers on a five day climb to the summit.  All of the proceeds from his climb, made possible by Climb to Fight Breast Cancer®, will go to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

“I’ve been around many coaches and athletes who have had to bare many burdens,” said Awad who has coached at Wayne Valley for seven years. "Those who have fought or continue to fight the fight are truly inspirational as they stop at nothing in an attempt to overcome the odds.  Sometimes there is success, other times the story is not as triumphant.  To me, seeing the true essence of the human spirit alive in each person is truly remarkable.”

Awad is dedicating this year's climb to James and Lynch.

James has been coaching for 25 years and continues to coach her team and train for veteran fencing events while battling a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma – Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia. 

Lynch was a coach for more than 22 years, the last four of which she continued to coach and work many national fencing events while battling ovarian cancer.

Professional guides from Alpine Ascents International will lead the expedition to the peak of Mount Olympus.  The climb will have a limited number of team members – generally nine or 10 – as established by the guide service. Each participant commits to a fundraising minimum of $3,000 to $12,500, depending on the mountain. 

All of the money raised goes directly to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, while 83 cents of every dollar specifically goes to breast cancer research.  Awad will pay all the cost of travel and any other expenses associated with the climb.

Since the first Climb to Fight Breast Cancer 14 years ago on Mount Adams, the popular fundraiser has garnered more than $4.5 million in support of breast cancer research at the Hutchinson Center.                                                                                                                         

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Scientists at the Hutchinson Center study many aspects of the disease, including preventive measures, risk factors and early detection.  

To make a donation and learn more about Awad’s climb, visit

About Fred HutchinsonCancerResearchCenter
Fred HutchinsonCancerResearchCenter’s interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. HutchinsonCenter researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit

Christi Ball Loso


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