Breckenridge resident Tommy Danger gears up for More Than Just Mountains campaign
For Tommy Danger, it’s all about more.
What more can he do to challenge himself? What further steps can he take, what other boundaries can he push? How can he raise even more awareness and money for a good cause?
A self-described “adventure freak,” Danger (yes, this will soon be his legal name) has always been into outdoor recreation, from running and biking to more extreme mountain climbing. While he enjoys all of these activities, he’s decided that it’s not enough just to do them. He wants to do them for a cause.
Clocking the miles
Four years ago, Danger, who lives in Breckenridge, learned that a hometown friend’s newborn boy had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” he said. “I had just finished the bike ride (and) I knew I wanted to do something extreme, to run across the country, but I wanted to link it to something.”
The bike ride Danger referred to was his first great endeavor for charity, in which he biked across the U.S. to raise money for a friend’s organization for at-risk teens. The experience was rewarding and he decided to do the same with his running-across-the-country goal. His friend’s boy, Ethan, provided just the type of cause Danger was looking for.
So he created his own foundation — More Than Just Me — and last September started his trek, on foot, across America to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis and money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He called it “More Than Just Miles.”
When he started in Seattle, Wash., Ethan was the only person Danger knew with cystic fibrosis. When he finished his run six months later, he had clocked a total of 3,200 miles and was connected, through Facebook, to thousands of people affected by the disease.
“The end of the run, I finished in Daytona Beach, and I finished on Ethan’s 4th brithday and it was just incredible,” Danger said. “We had over 100 people there from 14 different states. It was just beautiful to see the collection of people. I knew I’d be emotional, I ran 100 miles in one day, I finished, I was drained completely. (There were) all these people, there, my parents were there. I tried to talk, but it was (just) a lot of tears. … (I saw) all these people, all these kids who I’d seen pictures of but never seen in person before. It was incredible. It was one of the best moment of my life.”
Moving on to mountains
Danger took some time to recuperate from his run and also to plan his next step. He was eager to come up with not only a new plan, but one with a more extreme aspect.
“When I got near the end, my brain was thinking, ‘What’s next? What can we do?’” he said.
In the end, Danger came up with his new campaign, More Than Just Mountains, in which he and a team of dedicated fellow adventurers would endeavor to climb all “Seven Summits,” which comprise the tallest peaks on each of the world’s continents.
The list goes like this: Mt. McKinley in North America (20,322 feet), Mt. Aconcagua in South America (22,841 feet), Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa (19,341 feet), Mt. Elbrus in Europe (18,510 feet), Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica (16,050 feet), Mt. Everest in Asia (29,029 feet) and Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia (7,310 feet). Danger is actually planning on climbing eight peaks in total, adding Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. There’s a bit of a dispute between climbers as to which mountains comprise the top seven. While Mt. Kosciuszko is the tallest mountain in Australia, Carstensz Pyramid is in nearby Indonesia, which is part of Oceania, which includes Australia and New Zealand.
In addition to climbing all eight peaks, Danger’s goal is to raise $1 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
While he knows that both are large goals that will take years to accomplish, he doesn’t mind. He’s ready for the challenge, as are those who are going with him.
One of them is climbing and adventure enthusiast Mark Nolan, who also lives in Breckenridge and who met Danger through work. He just recently got back from a two-month bicycling trip in New Zealand and is excited to be a part of Danger’s efforts.
“Just the idea of seeing something and trying to get to the top of it and using all your mental energy capacity possible just to get to the top, I always thought that was really cool,” he said.
Danger, Nolan and another friend will tackle the first mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in November. They are also planning on filming their ascent. Footage of all eight ascents will eventually be assembled into a documentary.
Both Danger and Nolan are looking forward to tackling the challenge.
“I’m excited just to get to the top,” Danger said. “When you get to the top, there’s this, it’s like a drug almost, it’s like this high. Especially around Kilimanjaro, it’s flat … Once you’re on top, you’re seeing everything, you’re seeing Africa as far as you can see. I think that’s so amazing to be able to get to the top of each continent, like (the top of the) world with Everest. How many people have done that? How many people have been able to see that view of the top of the world? And that drives me.”
And as with the cross-country run, it’s not only the mountain-climbing challenge but the cause that pushes Danger and his companions onward.
“I feel like we’ve built this family that we can always turn to and they can turn to us and they believe in us,” he said of his followers. “Instead of a big foundation that’s like, ‘Donate to us and here’s your thank you card,’ we’re trying to communicate and doing all we can to bring awareness to all our causes.”
To follow Danger on his trek or to donate to his cause, visit the More Than Just Me website at http://www.mtjm.org.
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