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reaching higher

Local women climb space needle for cancer research

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32 steps to the top of the 90-story Space Needle, and seven Mission Valley women climbed to the top as fast as they could in support of family and friends who have had cancer.  

In late September, the women went to Seattle to complete the challenge. They had raised $1,888 from local organizations and individuals. The funds will go to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which is a place where scientists seek cures for cancer. 

“Cancer just about touches everybody’s life, and I thought this is a cool way to do something adventurous and something good,” said participant Jan Andrews. 

This year’s event was the fifth annual Base 2 Space climb and fundraiser in Seattle. More than 2,000 people participated this year. 

The Polson team was made up of Melissa Bahr, Lisa Slama, Carolyn Wallace, Kris Sampson, Nancy Hemphill, Julie Christopher and Andrews.

Andrews did her first Space Needle climb in 2017 in honor of her sister who was suffering from cancer. When Andrews returned, she told her exercise group she’d had a great experience, and months later, the group’s instructor, Kris Sampson, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Some members of the group decided to do the climb to support her. 

By the time the climb rolled around in September, Sampson had recovered enough that she was able to do the climb herself.  “It was very emotional for her and for us,” Andrews said. 

Andrews said she appreciates that even though her group is supporting specific people they know by participating, the funds raised benefit anyone touched by cancer.  

This year, two more friends joined the group. They trained for the event by running bleachers every Sunday morning leading up to the climb.

The event is competitive. Every member of the team finished the climb in less than 15 minutes. Andrews said runners start about 10 seconds apart, and the beginning of the event is high-energy. She added that it soon becomes just the climber and the steps and it gets rough. 

“At the second story, your lungs are already burning and you know you have 88 more stories to go,” Andrews said. 

When they reached the top, the women were greeted with cheers from a crowd and a medal. 

Andrews said the intensity of the challenge makes it a meaningful way to support those fighting cancer. “It’s different than doing a cancer walk because it tests your limits,” Andrews said. 

The group, dubbed “Montana Steps Up,” is already planning their trip for next year.  Those interested in supporting the group can find them on Facebook. “Every year we want to do better and better and raise more money,” Andrews said. 

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