Toni, who is a maths/science teacher at Cabra Dominican College, and Maxi travelled to Ecuador in the July school holidays intent on climbing five mountain peaks, including the summit of Mt Chimborazo which at 6263 metres is the closest point on Earth to the sun.
Coinciding with the challenge was Toni’s 50th birthday and Maxi turned 21 while climbing the fourth peak. Their self-funded journey also served to shine the spotlight on the impact having a sick child has on all members in a family.
As Toni explained, the concept for the Maxi+Mum Challenge was formed after one of their young cousins was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. In addition, the three-year-old daughter of a family friend from her hometown in NSW was also fighting the disease.
“The idea behind it was that Maxi and I were challenging ourselves in similar ways that families who have a child with leukaemia are challenged,” Toni said.
“These diseases, even though they can lead to remission, are major disruptions to the family as a ‘whole’. A great deal of help and support comes from the many people around these sick children, and usually over a long period of time.
“My personal ethos is if you see something or you feel you want to go and do something, you’ve got to give it your best shot, give it a go.”
Toni spent six months training around Adelaide for the trip to Ecuador. This included working out in an altitude room at Next Gen and endless walks up Mt Lofty.
“I despise Mt Lofty with a passion,” she laughed. “Because I’m a maths teacher I got the kids to work out that I got to the height of the equivalent of 6.8 Mt Loftys (in Ecuador).”
Toni said her training sessions incorporated plenty of walks in the Adelaide Hills, while carrying a backpack full of water bottles and wearing an oxygen mask.
“I looked like a fool, and people would always stop me and ask me what I was doing.”
However, despite all the training, when she arrived in Ecuador Toni succumbed to altitude sickness and was unable to conquer any of the five mountains.
“It took me a long time to come to terms that I couldn’t go higher than 4800m myself. It was very hard, but my driving factor was my son, whose effort just blew me away.”
Maxi, who is a strong climber, managed to reach four of the five peaks and was a big support for his mum.
Back in Adelaide, Toni is continuing to raise funds for leukaemia research and the Cabra community is right behind her.
“I’ve received amazing support from my principal Dr Helen Riekie, the staff and the students. Cabra embodies all that is Dominican in its entire community,” she said.
For more information or to donate, go to www.maximumpeakchallenge2019.comJump to next article