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    Heroes of a Different Kind

    191012-N-UJ417-2006

    Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Rhodes Jr | 191012-N-UJ417-2006 – NEW YORK CITY (October 12, 2019) Members assigned to Naval...... read more read more

    NEW YORK, NY, UNITED STATES

    12.16.2019

    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Russell Rhodes Jr 

    Naval Special Warfare Group TWO

    “My mother was a warrior in every sense of the word – always sacrificing for her family, friends and the students she taught,” said Adam LaReau, a former Navy SEAL. “She faced her fight in the same way the SEAL Teams did across the globe. Although they were occurring in very different arenas, both battles required teamwork, sacrifice, and resilience in order to be successful.”
    It was LaReau’s experience in the teams and his mother’s battle with cancer that inspired him to start One Summit, a non-profit that builds resilience in kids battling cancer through experiential learning with members of the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community.
    “My mom was diagnosed right before I graduated from BUD/S. A year and a half later, while on my first deployment, I got word that she had passed away. Once I returned home, I wanted to learn more about the disease that took my her and do what I could to help others enduring the same challenges. I started volunteering and soon came across a group of young warriors facing similar cancer battles as my mother, yet far too young to have the life experiences to draw upon as they went through treatment. Ultimately, I realized that the skills these kids needed were the very skills the NSW community was built upon. Nine years after my mother passed, I began to transition from the military and act on the idea of bringing these two groups of warriors together. My two worlds finally collided at our first ‘Climb for Courage’ event in Boston in 2013.”
    One Summit’s “Climb for Courage” curriculum is focused around a not-so-simple task: rock climbing.
    “We do a one-to-one or one-to-two partnership, depending on the family's interest, and they go through a curriculum of teamwork, problem solving, and various skills of a Navy SEAL,” said One Summit Executive Director Dianne Lynch. “We teach these skills to the kids and try to help build resiliency as they go through their cancer journey and beyond,”
    “Rock climbing is pretty humbling and if you spend any time on the wall you’ll understand you fail a lot more than you succeed,” said one active-duty SEAL that has volunteered with One Summit since its inception. “You can take a pretty arduous task, a much larger problem and walk through all the phases of solving a problem. You go from chunking it out, using teamwork, having resiliency, and finally coming out the back end feeling like you’ve accomplished something at the end of the day.”
    One trait that the One Summit crew preaches and instills in their participants above all is resiliency.
    “Resiliency is the ability to go through something difficult and to be able to bounce back, to recover from a difficult experience,” said Lynch. “That's really the goal of the whole program: to teach kids to become stronger, regardless of what they're facing through the really simple idea of climbing a rock wall.”
    “Most charities try to provide an experience to these kids to take their minds off of the day-to-day struggle of dealing with cancer,” said Eric Sterling, a father of a One Summit participant from last year. “One Summit is a reminder that the challenges in front of you can be conquered one step at a time.”
    For Sterling, the time his children spent with One Summit goes beyond the lessons learned on the rock wall with the SEALs.
    “I think that when kids who are of school age go through cancer treatment they feel alienated and different from the other kids,” said Sterling. “When a child gets to participate in an event like this they are given the opportunity to do something healthy kids are doing all the time. I know that doing these activities with the SEALs is completely unbelievable and an opportunity of a lifetime, but for the kids its simply an opportunity to be a kid for an afternoon.”
    An aspect that One Summit feels is central to their “Climb for Courage” is that the experience is not limited to just one afternoon. The SEAL’s role as a mentor is meant to continue after “Climb for Courage” and throughout the child’s life.
    “With One Summit you're establishing a relationship with that kid, with his family, with the doctors, so that you’re an outlet; someone else they can go to when they’re struggling with school or treatments,” said a seasoned One Summit SEAL volunteer. “As much as I talk to the kids after these events, I talk as much, if not more, to the parents. A lot of them don't know how to deal with bad news. A lot of them don’t know how to talk to their kids when they’re struggling. What you give them inside of this program is that long, enduring relationship with their family.”
    “My mentee already asked me if I'm coming back next year and his brothers were asking my platoon mates whether or not they’re coming to their birthday,” said a SEAL volunteering for the first time with One Summit. “We spend four hours with these kids and we’re already bonding.”
    One Summit has expanded outside of Boston, hosting climbs in New York City and San Diego, in addition to a slew of other events throughout the year for mentors and mentees to help nurture that relationship and sense of community.
    “We’ve come a long way since that very first “Climb for Courage” in 2013,” said LaReau. “We’ve added other support initiatives, such as our community engagement program and storytelling pillar. We’ve worked hard to bring in the resources required to enhance our impact. Although we’ve hosted 14 ‘Climbs for Courage’ and impacted more than 350 patients and siblings, and over 200 mentors, we feel we’re just getting started.”
    That’s exactly what everyone involved with One Summit feels: that the organization is just getting started. With plans to host a “Climb for Courage” in Virginia Beach, VA in 2020, LaReau and Lynch are optimistic that One Summit will continue to provide a unique service to two unique communities.
    “It’s hard to predict how the needs of the cancer and military communities will evolve over the next three to five years, but our approach will remain the same: to listen and adapt to the feedback we receive from those who are in the trenches each day – whether that is our little warriors, mentors, families, the Child Life Specialists at our partner hospitals, community sponsors or other members of the One Summit community,” said LaReau. “Collectively, they provide a constant stream of ideas and strategies aimed at deepening our impact and success, but they also inspire us to ask ourselves the tough questions. Questions like: ‘Where are the gaps in support?’ and ‘How can we fill in the seams?’
    This approach prompted us to begin the process of writing a children’s book and kick-off an independent research study into the ability of our program to facilitate post-traumatic growth across our community of warriors. Moving forward, we’ll continue to listen to our community and ask the tough questions as we work to identify appropriate avenues for growth.”
    With all that One Summit is working on, at the core it is still about the “Climb for Courage” and Navy SEALs committing their time to help kids and families develop a mindset that will help facilitate growth through the various stages that accompany a diagnosis such as cancer.
    “For my kids, who have grown up idolizing super heroes, spending time with the team in One Summit gives them the opportunity to meet and spend time with real heroes,” said Sterling.
    Through their role as mentors, these “heroes” provide a source of courage and strength when and where it is needed most. But its clear they also get something in return from the opportunity to serve and support “heroes” of a different kind – ones that may be smaller in size, but not in fight.
    This desire to “never give up” shared by One Summit’s like-minded warriors has resulted in countless of stories of resilience, with many still waiting to be written.
    For more information or to find out how you can get involved, visit www.onesummit.org.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.16.2019
    Date Posted: 12.16.2019 15:07
    Story ID: 355886
    Location: NEW YORK, NY, US 
    Hometown: BOSTON, MA, US
    Hometown: NEW YORK, NY, US
    Hometown: SAN DIEGO, CA, US
    Hometown: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, US

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