PHOENIX – An overcast and windy Saturday did not dampen the spirit of 113 U-Haul Team Members and their families who spent the morning of Feb. 28 hiking South Mountain in the annual Climb for Cancer event.
Climb for Cancer, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is an event for people to contribute to cancer research and awareness. It also serves as an avenue to support and honor loved ones touched by all forms of cancer.
“When I was 9 years old my grandmother died from cancer,” said Phyllis Gurstell of Oxford Life Insurance. Gurstell has hiked with Team U-Haul for 14 years.
“I didn’t know then what cancer was,” Gurstell added. “I didn’t know that it was an illness that killed people. Everybody has either been afflicted by cancer themselves or known somebody with cancer who has survived or died from it.”
Every mile of the hike was marked by snack and water booths. When hikers reached the top of South Mountain, they celebrated with cake and music before riding down the mountain in a school bus.
Team U-Haul T-shirt donned the phrase “Walking in Honor of” followed by the names of loved ones who have dealt with cancer.
“I have quite a few names on the team t-shirt,” Gurstell said.
Susan Murphy captained the first U-Haul team for this event in 1993 and came up with the T-shirt.
Climb for Cancer T-shirts colors change every year. Most of the hikers wore the purple 2014 shirt, but some proudly sported older editions to show decades of support.
Due to the personal nature of cancer, groups personalized their T-shirts. One group wore pink fairy wings this year and always uses pink accessories to support breast cancer. Other groups added their own slogans to the backs of shirts.
Since the start of its involvement, U-Haul has donated over $500,000 to the American Cancer Society through Climb for Cancer. U-Haul has been the team with the largest donation in Arizona since 2007. This year, Team U-Haul has raised more than $12,000. This amount will double in size when U-Haul matches it.
“When I send out my e-mails asking for donations, I put that in bold: ‘My employer U-Haul will match all the money I collect,’” said Gurstell, who raised nearly $2,700 this year, the most by a U-Haul Team Member. Laura Miller raised more than $2,300.
Current Team U-Haul captain Sam Austin knows firsthand the good that comes from the donations. In 2007, Austin was diagnosed with rare and untreatable gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Research and medication has been able to stop the cancer growth.
Donations to Team U-Haul are accepted through the end of March. To donate, visit the Team U-Haul page on the American Cancer Society site at: http://main.acsevents.org.
There are many within the U-Haul family affected by cancer, and donations are the greatest form of help and encouragement. Even though the physical climb is past, we can all still be a part of the battle against cancer.
In the words of climber and U-Haul Team Member Prescilla Cueller, “Cancer won’t give up and neither will I.”
Thank you to the follow participants in the 2015 Climb for Cancer: Saundra Cotton; Chris McGilvra; Ronald Miller; Andrew Olson; Silvia Olson; Rebecca Pitman; Robin Pitman; Stefanie Stanley; Carlos Vizcarra; Melissa Vizcarra; Erick Acevedo; Adolfo Alaniz; Loren Aragon; Valentina Aragon; Sam Austin; Abbie Avelar; Maria Avelar; Kate Bickmore; James Brebeck; Amber Bremer; Scott Bremer; Lamar Brooks; Karen Butler; MacKenzie Butler; Misty Butler; Kelly Casey; Manuel Cuellar; Prescilla Cuellar; Alaine Dennis; Alaine Dennis; Alaine Dennis; Angie DeWinter; Steve Dufresne; Karren Dunbar; Sandra Duran; Cecelia Else; Zofia Falconi; Eva Franco; Alicia Galaviz; Joey Geiser; Darrell Gibson; Joan Gibson; Marissa Gonzales; Monica Granillo; Michael Gurstell; Phyllis Gurstell; Mirna Gutierrez; Paula Haber; Jack Hayden; Raymond Johnson; Jerrica Johnston; Keith Koszuta; Michelle Lake; Diana Lizardo; Nalany Lopez; Vicki Marinakis; Mary McBrearty; Elizabeth Mckechnie; Sean Mckechnie; Zac Michaels; Kamiah Miller; Laura Miller; Jonathan Cesar; Moreno Lupe Munoz; Bill Neff; Jeannie Neff; Nyshana Nichols; Josh Nies; Karena Nies; Elisabeth Novak; Jeanne Olson; Iveth Otero; Calvin Pedro; Hilda Pedro; Jefferson Pinto; Blanca Quintero; John Quintero; Abraham Ramos; Garcia Angel Rea; Annamarie Reid; Jenna Repkin; Linda Reyher; Tony Reyher; Alexis Ridley; Laura Rollins; Alonna Ross; Bruce Royer; Chasan Royer; Kyle Royer; Renee Royer; Glizette Ruiz; Ben Sailer; Andrea Sanchez; Kathleen Schultz; Kelsey Sederstrom; Zarin Sells; Zofia Sells; Lisa Soldano; Daniel Stanley; Paul Stanley; April Stapley; Butch Stapley; Stacey Stubbs; Damaris Tena; Daniel Valle; Leonel Valle; Rosario Valle; Nita Vazquez; Michelle Vukov-Mikel; Bobbie Webb; Loretta Wojtak; Brianna Yahraus; Kelly Yahraus.