Their day job is to encourage Brandman University students and prospective students to overcome their fears to reach their goals. Now, a duo from the Enrollment Coaching Center is taking their own advice.
Whereas students read thousands of pages of text, Felicia Royce and Cecil Pendergrass will conquer thousands of feet of elevation, climbing Oregon’s highest summit to raise money for the research and education of lung cancer and lung disease.
“I have to practice what I preach,” Royce said.
“This will give us an even deeper understanding of what it’s like to face big barriers and surely overcome them,” Pendergrass added.
Royce and Pendergrass met while working as enrollment coaches at Brandman. They started hiking together. It was on one of their many hikes they discovered they have both been impacted by lung disease and lung cancer. Royce lost her father to lung cancer and her son was born with a rare lung disorder. Pendergrass’s mother’s partner died of lung disease, and her uncle died of lung cancer.
Royce learned about the Climb for Clean Air – a fundraiser climb of Mount Hood to raise money to benefit the American Lung Association. After attending an information session, they signed up together.
“I really like that we get to come together to meet other people and form a community. Not just me and her making the climb,” Pendergrass said. “Part of the process is getting to know the other climbers, sharing stories and training with our new climbing buddies. I’m looking forward to that.”
Mount Hood has an elevation of 11,240 feet and no trails to the summit. It’s considered a technical climb requiring experience with crampons, ice axes, self-belay, self-arrest, ropes and knots. They admit they don’t have the technical experience yet, that’s why Royce and Pendergrass attend weekly training session in preparation for their May ascension. They see similarities between this initiative and their work at Brandman.
“I talk with students about their goals, motivations, fears and challenges. We talk about ways to work through that and be a successful. We have guides, trainers and volunteers who have done this many times and will lead the climb. They’ll be our coaches and we will be the students,” Pendergrass said. “We will walk more than a mile in their shoes, and at the end of the day when you’ve been in someone else’s shoes you can better empathize, connect and support them better knowing the challenges you faced. I’ve been there, it’s a challenge for me, let’s talk about yours and how we can navigate that.”
They’re already visualizing what it will be like when they reach the summit, even though both admit being afraid of heights. Talk about overcoming your fears!
“I think there will be a lot just being in the moment, trying to say, ‘Wow.’ I will be putting a lot of thought and intention into just remembering not just the ones I’ve lost to lung cancer, but remembering the ones my loved ones have lost from sickness in general,” Pendergrass said.
“I will probably cry,” Royce admitted. “I will have a couple of banners, and a picture of my dad, my friend’s brother (who lost his life to lung cancer at age 25), and my son. I’m definitely telling people at work about it and Brandman will in some way, shape or form will be included.”
To follow and support Felicia Royce and Cece Pendergrass as they Climb for Clean Air, click here.
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