Russ White: Why I’m Climbing

We asked some of our Summit For Someone climbers to tell us why they chose to devote part of 2010 to raising money and training for a mountain climb to benefit Big City Mountaineers. We’ll be publishing their answers on our blog over a span of a few weeks. Want to share why you’re climbing? E-mail us at .

Russ White


Mark Twain National Forest in Kentucky



Buck Mountain

I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors.  I love to be out in the woods hiking, mountain biking, or hunting.  It has always been a goal of mine to climb a mountain.  Here in central Illinois we don’t have many options!  So when I ran across an ad for Big City Mountaineers and Summit For Someone in BACKPACKER magazine a few years ago…I had to know more about it.

I’ve never really ever attempted to raise money for anything outside of high school, and that was just magazine sales or something like that to raise money for our class.  When I learned that this money was going to be used for helping out under-privileged teens it made so much sense.  To me this is an extraordinary way to help these teens to experience something that they have never been accustomed to.  I imagined them seeing a mountain for the first time or maybe hearing an elk bugle.  I know exactly how that can impact a young mind.  That right there justifies me trying to raise the money for my climb.

When I think of the kids that I’m going to help I can’t help but think how proud my friend, Kayla, would be to do this also.  Kayla was my cousin and one of my best friends all throughout childhood, high school, and after.  She was a wonderful person with THE BEST personality and did not know a stranger.  Kayla was a youth advocate for Christian County Illinois truancy program and directly assisted with helping out the same type of at-risk teens that I will be climbing for.  She was a constant substitute teacher at a secondary school for troubled teens and would gladly take the call when others would pass for that school.  She understood those kids and gave them a chance, and the kids understood her and respected her.  Tragically, several years ago she was taken too early in a car accident along with her unborn daughter, Ally.  I can’t describe the amount of sorrow our whole community felt regarding their loss.

Even though she is gone, her story doesn’t end there.  She lives on through her amazing family and friends, and there are tons of friends!  You cannot go anywhere that Kayla was known and not share a good story and laugh about something that she said or did.  She lives on in all of our smiles and laughter.  That’s why I want to climb for these kids.  They need to have someone give them a chance and show them the great beauty of the world that we have been granted.  That is why I’m dedicating my climb to Kayla and her legacy.

I’ve got a lot of work to do now I guess.  This will be my first mountaineering experience and coming from the Midwest elevation, I’ll have to be in great shape.  I have to admit I’m a little nervous about the whole thing but am extremely excited.  Teton Range, here I come!!!


One response to “Russ White: Why I’m Climbing

  1. Linda Sheedy

    Kayla would be VERY proud of you!