Cornwall firefighter climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Roger's House

July 19, 2012

Cornwall firefighter Ian Butcher holds a photo of his daughter Jovie. He will be climbing Kilimanjaro in her memory in the fall to raise money for Roger's House.

Story and photo by Kathryn Burnham, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

In just over two months, Ian Butcher will be faced with the climb of a lifetime as he endeavours to hike Africa’s highest point, Mount Kilimanjaro.

But it won’t be the toughest fight he has had to undergo.

The Cornwall firefighter is making the climb in memory of his daughter, Jovie, as a fundraiser for Roger’s House, where she spent the last weeks of her life.

Born in September, she was a small beautiful gift to the family. Five days after birth, however, she was diagnosed with trisomy 18, an illness that introduced Ian and his wife Renée to a whole new life.

For five months the family watched her smile, laugh and learn their voices as she fought the congenital heart disease that accompanies the genetic illness. Renée and Ian were comforted throughout with the support of Roger’s House, he said.

“Roger’s House is a special place, and anybody that has been there, has had to use their services, it’s just a truly touching place,” he said.

Roger’s House, located at CHEO, provides a home-away-from-home atmosphere for children undergoing palliative care. It is also a place for grief counseling for parents who have lost a child, and it was through this program the Sky-High fundraiser was born.

The challenge will see a half dozen others with connections to Roger’s House join Butcher and his father-in-law Marcel Lalande at Kilimanjaro in October.

“We all have our different reasons for wanting to do this,” said Butcher. “One of the things we have in common is that I think it will be therapeutic, as well as I know there are a couple of us that hope spiritually it will help us feel closer to the ones that we have lost.”

Sky-High came to life when Sophie Rosa and Angelo Garcia were chatting at a Roger’s House telethon in 2011.

Garcia had planned on climbing Kilimanjaro with his son, Misha, who passed away from a brain tumour before the climb. Garcia, however, planned on making the trip to spread his son’s ashes at the top, as Misha had asked in his will.

Rosa had also been planning to climb Kilimanjaro, but the trip was placed on the backburner when her son Simon drowned while on a school outing.

But when Garcia spoke of his plan, the challenge beckoned again.

Butcher said he will be training at Summit Gym and hiking with the Roger’s House group in Gatineau Park and Mont Tremblant.

While Butcher said he has only climbed a bit – “just the occasional mountain in the Adironacks and the mountains we have around here,” he will be training hard in the coming months. “They certainly don’t compare to Kilimanjaro, but hopefully that will help me with my training,” he added.

Butcher will also be hosting the Jovie Memorial Golf Classic Sept. 3 at Summerheights Golf to help raise $4,000 for Roger’s House. Donations can be made online by clicking here

 

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