Kerri Brenner

When Kerri tried to explain to her 3-year-old daughter where Africa was, she described a place filled with lions and giraffes. “Mom, that’s the zoo!” Her daughter replied. Kerri has never crossed an ocean but will do so to celebrate having completed her radiation treatments just four months ago.

Age: 33
Home: Colfax, Iowa
Cancer: Breast
Status: Finished radiation treatment in September, 2011
Mantra: “It is in God’s hands.”

Steven Rebelsky

Steven cried tears of happiness when he learned that he would be traveling halfway around the world to climb Kilimanjaro with his son. After an epiphany that giving back to society is the way to spend one’s life, Steven began driving cancer patients without transportation to their treatments.

Age: 69
Home: Urbandale, Iowa
Cancer: Prostate, diagnosed in 2008
Status: Considering hormonal therapy
Mantra: “The cancer journey is a day at a time.”

Tim Meyer

Tim underwent surgery to remove his prostate only eight weeks ago. Tim reluctantly attended a presentation on the cancer survivors’ journey to Mt. Everest in the spring at his son’s request. He was very inspired by what he saw and was diagnosed with his own cancer just weeks later.

Age: 63
Home: Waterloo, Iowa
Cancer: Prostate, diagnosed 2011
Status: Had surgery to remove prostate in November 2011
Mantra: “Life is nothing more than we make of it.”

Madonna Nichols

When in Tanzania, it will have been one year since Madonna first discovered she had cancer.  Since then she has had a bilateral mastectomy and is concerned about the well being of her arm. Her husband will join her to assist and also provide medical care to the group.

Age: 53
Home: Ankeny, Iowa
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed in 2011
Status: Uncertain
Mantra: “Courage isn’t always a lion’s roar. It is sometimes the heart at the end of a day saying I will try again tomorrow.”

Michael Kreple

Michael trained as a cage fighter all through chemo and believes that’s what allowed him to come out strong on the other end. He had to get his first passport for the trip to Africa and has hope the journey will shed light on his life’s greater purpose.

Age: 41
Home: Palmdale, California
Cancer: Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, diagnosed in 2010
Status: In remission for three months
Mantra: “Whatever it takes.”

Sarah Russell

Sarah lives for the present even more after having gone through the cancer experience. Thanks to adventurer Charlie Wittmack, she was inspired to climb Africa’s highest peak in hopes of reconnecting to her soul again. She knows the journey will lead to something, she just doesn’t know exactly what.

Age: 38
Home: Oskaloosa, Iowa
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed in 2004
Status: Clear results since treatment
Mantra: “Enjoy the mystery.”

Cindy Torvik

Cindy says, “I fear risk and I don’t really care for change, but I like the idea of doing something hard.” Having gone through a painful and complicated cancer experience while her husband experienced unemployment, the couple continues to prove nothing is too tough for them to get through.

Age: 43
Home: Clive, Iowa
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed 2006
Status: 5 1/2 years fully cured
Mantra: “Attitude is everything, and it is a choice.”

Nina Philipp

Nina sees climbing Kilimanjaro with a group of cancer survivors as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so she’s willing to look past the fact she’s never been camping before and is not the outdoors type. Having gone through radiation and chemo along with seven surgeries, she’s well trained at overcoming challenges.

Age: 47
Home: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cancer: Salivary gland, diagnosed 1989
Status: Two years cancer free
Mantra: ”Live well, love much, laugh often.”

Dave Bartemes

Dave is a natural storyteller, and the ordained deacon has many to tell having visited with prisoners and grief groups to offer his guidance and inspiration. Leading up to the excursion, the oldest member of the team made it clear he was more than ready to embark to Africa.

Age: 73
Home: Charleston, West Virginia
Cancer: Prostate, diagnosed 2008
Status: In third remission, experimental hormone therapy
Mantra: Life is not about storing treasures.

Julie Goodale

Being distanced ten years from her cancer diagnosis, Julie, a professional viola player, has done a lot of reflecting as of late on the passage of time. Seeing the value of exercise throughout her cancer treatment, she is an advocate for healthy living even during the toughest of times.

Age: 48
Home: Stony Point, New York
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed in 2001
Status: No evidence of disease
Mantra: “I exercised even during treatment. I said, ‘This is how I save my own life.’”

Brandon Sickler

Though he is the youngest members of the cancer survivor group heading to Kilimanjaro, Brandon possesses a certain wisdom. In the spring of 2011, he hiked to Mt. Everest base camp in Nepal with a group of 13 other cancer survivors, experiencing first-hand the magic on the mountain.

Age: 29
Home: Dickinson, North Dakota
Cancer: Leukemia (AML), diagnosed 2003
Status: Fully cured
Mantra: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles.”

Leslie Berg

Leslie used to want to hide her cancer but eventually realized how beneficial revealing her story can be to others. With no health care plan, her church has come to her aid, and she’s looking to give back through sharing her positive spirit and inspirational tale of overcoming adversity.

Age: 42
Home: Boston, Massachusetts
Cancer: Peritoneal diagnosed in 2001; Leukemia (CML), diagnosed in 2003
Status: Still battling
Mantra: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.”

Connie Duinink

Connie is out to prove that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. The kind and gentle 63-year-old is hoping this journey will provide an opportunity to share her cancer story with others who have had similar experiences when in the past she has internalized many of her emotions.

Age: 63
Home: Knoxville, Iowa
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed in 2008
Status: Cancer free as of 2008
Mantra: “I want to live a life of thankfulness.”

Gail Endres

Gail got his first passport at age 64 in order to climb to the base camp of Mt. Everest, which he completed with poise. His participation with Above + Beyond Cancer has not only taken him to new heights geographically, but in finding a deep connection with new friends.

Age: 65
Home: Ankeny, Iowa
Cancer: Prostate, diagnosed in 2002
Status: Cancer free as of 2006
Mantra: “Life is good.”

Tammy Blaede

Tammy jokes she will keep everyone from getting altitude sickness because she’ll slow them down. “I’ve never exercised before in my life,” she said prior to training with Above + Beyond Cancer. Having grown up in high altitude and her will to succeed may get her to the top.

Age: 49
Home: Custer, South Dakota
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed in 2004
Status: Fully cured
Mantra: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.”

Frank Bognanno

Monsignor Frank Bognanno was ordained into the priesthood in 1965 and is younger in energy and spirit than his 71 years of age might suggest. He’s been training in between his duties as a pastor to prepare and plans to continue his one-hour of prayer per day tradition.

Age: 71
Home: Des Moines, Iowa
Cancer: Prostate, diagnosed in 1994
Status: Undergoing radiation for recurrence in 2012

Bev Lund

Bev’s mother was diagnosed with an aggressive pancreatic cancer just days before Bev was to commit to climbing Kilimanjaro in honor of survivorship and those lost to cancer. Her mom wanted it no other way than for her daughter to fulfill a dream in tribute to the entire family.

Age: 59
Home: Springfield, Massachusetts
Cancer: Breast, diagnosed in 2004
Status: Cancer free 7 1/2 years
Mantra: “Life is short. I am going to live on the edge.”

Anna Corulli

Anna, an army nurse, will hike Africa’s highest peak with her uncle, Msgr. Frank Bognanno – also a cancer survivor. “I would climb any mountain to be with Uncle Frank.” Anna knows the value of travel and simple living, believing that’s when you learn the most about yourself.

Age: 48 Home: Augusta, Georgia
Cancer: Thyroid, diagnosed in 2006
Status: Cured through radiation surgery
Mantra: “Through the very midst of mountains the water shall pass.”

Corey McMordie

Corey and cancer have known one another far too well over the years. He will cross an ocean for the first time on January 1, 2012, to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a group of cancer survivors and caregivers to show that cancer can also lead to some new opportunities.

Age: 32
Home: Indianola, Iowa
Cancer: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, diagnosed in 2007
Status: 3 years into remission
Mantra: “Live each day to the fullest as you never know what tomorrow may bring.”