Vanderbilt woman scaling new heights in cancer fundraiser

| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Combining her compassion for others and her love of the great outdoors, Kelly Miller of Vanderbilt is in the process of embarking on a great adventure that few can claim bragging rights to ­— she is now attempting to scale Mt. Shasta in California as part of a unique fundraising event.

Miller, 31, will be one of the 40 climbers who attempt the four-day mountaineering adventure whose proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Fund.

“My aunt was diagnosed with and survived breast cancer, and that has motivated me to apply for this 14,179-foot climb,” Miller said. “She is also still involved with the Breast Cancer Fund, so hopefully, we can save our loved one and keep this tradition, Climb Against the Odds, alive. The Breast Cancer Fund is a nonprofit that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. I have learned this can be done through personal, corporate and political action.”

Miller has been involved in other climbing events and also participates in walks, runs and other physical challenge events that benefit charitable organizations and regularly hikes the Laurel Mountain Hiking Trail and works out at local training facilities to keep fit.

Her latest adventure will be to tackle Mt. Shasta, an active volcano that is part of the Cascades and the second highest in the range.

Mt. Shasta is also the fifth-highest mountain in the entire state of California, so scaling it will be no small feat.

Miller has been working diligently to generate funds for the event by hosting several fundraising events.

“Each climber must raise a minimum of $6,000 to participate in this climb, and my goal is $10,000,” Miller said. “All money raised will go directly to the Breast Cancer Fund. Each climber is required to pay 100 percent of their expenses, including climb and transportation fees.”

Miller said she is impressed with the success of the Breast Cancer Fund, which is concentrating on bringing awareness to the potential harm of radiation and chemicals in the everyday environment, attempting to stop the disease before it even starts.

“The Breast Cancer Fund already had proven successes,” Miller said. “For example, the Breast Cancer Fund was part of pressuring Campbell's to remove BPA (Bisphenol A, which is used in the epoxy that lines containers and pipes) from their cans.”

Miller is thankful for all who have helped her make the trip and the climb possible and is pleased to be a part of the movement to stop cancer in its tracks.

“The climb will be both a physical and mental challenge, but the most difficult part will be remembering the ones that are no longer with us because of breast cancer,” Miller said.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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