What is CFL?
Climb for Life not is a commercial brand name, nor an association or anything similar. Climb for Life is an idea.
It all started in November 2009, when a young Italian climber called Giovanni Spitale became ill, and very seriously ill. The diagnosis was aplastic anemia: a degenerative disease of the bone marrow which can be cured completely through bone marrow transplant.
Giovanni went through a long period in hospital also undergoing gruelling chemotherapy, but alas to date no compatible bone marrow donor has been found to make a transplant possible. The fact is, that the chances of finding a compatible donor are one in a hundred thousand. 1 in 100,000!!
While he was in hospital, Giovanni got to know a lot of people who were also on the waiting list for a bone marrow transplant; the lucky ones are able to have it and make it, many others don’t. He decided, while still in hospital, to do something, as much as possible, to increase the numbers of bone marrow donors through a wide-reaching information campaign. “I may not find my ‘medicine-person’ “, he wrote at the time, “but I’m sure that I’ll be able to find someone who will save the life of someone else. At least we’d be even.”
Giovanni survived his time in hospital, his condition stabilised, and even began to improve. Unfortunately, however, a transplant is still necessary: without it, his life expectancy is reckoned to be 10 years. The number of people on the waiting list for transplant has not decreased either for those with haematological diseases (leukaemia above all). So the conditions are there for the information campaign to keep going. And why shouldn’t it keep going?
This is our story …
In April of 2010, Giovanni Spitale met Pietro dal Prà, a great climber and Alpinist from the Vicenza area. Pietro was ‘typed’ and decided to give Giovanni a hand. What emerged from the friendship and collaboration between the two of them was the Climb for Life project: a ‘signature’ to use on an information platform in which there would be – and now is – all the information regarding bone marrow donation and the convincing reasons for becoming a donor, all clear and accessible for every climber in the world. “We thought of mountaineers”, Pietro says, “because above all, it’s an environment that we know well, but also remembering that these are people who have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, great sensitivity”
Since 2010 our idea has developed; also thanks to the indispensable logistical, bureaucratic, human and economic help of ADMO – the Italian Association for Bone Marrow Donors (Associazione dei Donatori di Midollo Osseo). Moreover, hundreds of climbers, maybe even thousands, have decided to become donors so as to give hope of life to any person, in any part of the world, who might have need of them. There are, amongst these climbers, names such as Adam Ondra, Michele Caminati, James Pearson, Caroline Ciavaldini, Hansjorg Auer, and many others; people who besides giving of themselves in the physical sense, have decided to become actively involved in spreading information.
It is also thanks to the support of the global climbing community that the number of donors has increased; not sufficiently, however. People are still dying today for lack of a suitable donor. And that is why our campaign must go on; that is why we must try to become as wide-reaching as possible.
Take note – Climb for Life is not a commercial brand name, nor an association. It is just an idea, and as such, everything that is realised is done through the involvement of volunteers, people who do things, such as organizing events, creating graphics, photography, videos and web programming. Money is needed, but money doesn’t save people’s lives, therefore (and so as to avoid any chance of unpleasant misunderstandings) we are not interested. Climb for Life is not a fund-raiser!
What we are asking is simply some help in information awareness. We know that only a small proportion of the people who are informed about bone marrow donation actually go ahead and do it. (It requires just a blood test to see if you can even be compatible!) But it 10% of 100 equals ten, then 10% of 100,000 means ten thousand! You can understand, therefore, how important small actions may be: the more the information, the more the donors; and the more the donors means the fewer people who die.
But what can one actually do?
- Those who have a web page, are administrators of one, or produce contents for one:
A banner with a link to our site would be a great favour. On the “Help: spread the word” page of our portal there are several versions, and on request we can provide banners in any format. It would be even better, if possible, if information about donation was inserted into the contents: events that Climb for Life participates in, interviews and testimonials, video and photographic material with the logo and the web address … Any action that can contribute to heightening awareness or bringing about the discovery that donating bone marrow is easy, safe, and ethically right is very welcome.
- Those who have a Facebook page:
Climb for Life also has a Facebook page. Every now and then re-launch the contents that we put there, inviting users to look into bone marrow donation by visiting our fb page or our site, or by directly posting contents and links from the CfL site. This would be great. You could even signal our page among your favourites; our aim is to “exploit” existing networks of people so that we can communicate to as many people as possible as quickly as possible information about bone marrow donation.
- Those who work with paper publications:
On our website, on the page “Help: spread the word” you will find ‘publicity’ graphics in various formats, which can be easily downloaded. On request we can create more specific graphics, either with different contents or in a different format. Should you be creating a publicity section for the layout of a guide and you have a spare half page that you don’t know how to fill, think of Climb for Life!
- Those who organize sporting contests, meetings and events:
We are in the process of creating a sort of manual, based on our experience, of how to insert Climb for Life into any event. It would already mean a lot to have the logo and the web address in your fliers or notices. In the case of sporting contests, a small insert in the enrolment form would be great, as would the logo included on T-shirts in the case of meetings and events.
What do we offer in return?
As we said before, Climb for Life functions and exists thanks to the work of volunteers. For this reason, which is more ethical than practical, we are not able (nor would it be appropriate) to offer monetary payment. Every individual company or organization that supports us will be mentioned in the ‘supporters’ page with a banner, a link, and a brief description of what we have achieved together.
We are just asking for a hand, where possible, and given with a smile. We simply offer the chance to carry out a small action that together with other small actions, contributes to saving lives and making the world a better place; making ethics, for once, win over markets.
We thank you for your attention and ask, if you can, to give us a hand.
The Climb for Life staff.