Wendy Booker is a woman on a mission. And she’d like you to join her! But as she would sagely say, “Exactly what your mission is doesn’t matter. What truly matters is that you find a way to push beyond the obstacles in your life to discover your passion and achieve more than you ever thought possible.”
When first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1998, Wendy was crushed. But she was also determined to see how hard and how far she could push back at her diagnosis. Although her doctors discouraged the idea, concerned that it would worsen her symptoms, she decided to start running marathons for her sanity. Staying active was her way of coping with her condition. MS 150 bike rides, triathlons and even sky diving all helped her forget for a moment that she faced a lifelong battle with in an insidious illness.
Mountain climbing came next. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded, becoming the first person with MS to stand atop the highest peak in North America! Wendy always says, “I want others facing a challenge in life to go find their own mountains.” And what better example could she offer than paving the way.
Next came an ambitious bid for the Seven Summits: the highest mountain on each continent. Just four short years after kick-starting her quest, Wendy had successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits: Kilimanjaro (Africa), Denali (N. America), Elbrus (Europe), Aconcagua (S. America), Vinson Massif (Antarctica) and Kosciuszko (Australia) as the first person with a confirmed MS diagnosis to do so. Two attempts on Mt. Everest in 2009 and 2010 proved that Wendy had pushed MS to the highest it would allow her to go and with grace and joy in the amazing journey that the mission had provided, Wendy decided to tackle a new challenge and content herself with climbing 6 of the Seven Summits.
Perhaps giving greater meaning to the mission than an Everest summit is proving that even when we cannot reach the top, we can never give up, try hard, dig deep and enjoy the journey.
And what is the new challenge? The North Pole! An avid adventurer, Wendy has an insatiable appetite for sampling exotic locations, pushing her body to its limits, and experiencing new sports. She has made inspiring others her life goal, and what better way to manifest that dream than to explore the polar frontier and ski the last degree of the frozen north.
Wendy also sets a personal example of giving back and looking beyond your own pain to help others. By launching The Other Side of Everest Educational Foundation in 2009, she serves the troubled, impoverished communities that make the sport of mountain climbing possible, and leverages that cause to build inspiration and perspective for US youth who also face poverty and despair. By bridging the gap between underprivileged children in two worlds, The Other Side of Everest Educational Foundation is improving their odds of success, and helping to develop strong, well-educated and inspired citizens who can positively contribute to their respective communities as adults.
So, would Wendy give up her mission to go back to a life without MS. Not a chance! As she always says, “I have a chronic illness, but it’s been more like an epiphany.”