Climbers against Cancer (CAC)
Climbers Against Cancer was created by the late John Ellison, a British climber who after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, established a charity that has since raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from climbers and mountaineers.
In May 2014, Ellison was honoured by the UIAA at a meeting of the UIAA Management Committee in Munich. Ellison was feted for his outstanding efforts to bring together the global family of climbers and mountaineers to raise funds for research to fight and beat cancer.
After being diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Ellison spent eighteen months building a legacy in the form of the organization Climbers against Cancer which was founded in January 2013.
In its first year, Climbers Against Cancer raised nearly $350,000 (USD) through creative fundraising efforts which include the sale of more than 13,000 t-shirts and hoodies worn today by climbers around the world.
Frits Vrijlandt, UIAA President, explained that the federation had chosen to honour Ellison for his dedication and persistence in founding a charity that has united mountaineers, ice climbers, rock climbers, boulderers and sport climbers as well those who pursue the sport for competitive or recreational reasons.
“Every now and then someone comes along who transcends divisions and Ellison, through his personal battle against cancer which he has fought with such dignity and that wonderful smile, has taught us all the true meaning of what we are all about,” said Vrijlandt.
Vrijlandt said he was particularly touched by a quote that Ellison used on the organization website: “Only when you’ve been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be atop the highest mountain.”
Ellison explained his reasons for founding his charity with these words:
“Whilst thinking about the possibilities of ‘Climbers Against Cancer’ as an idea I remembered the saying ‘strength in numbers’ and how the world of climbing as a family has so much power to deliver a message across the globe.”
“If, as a group of friends, we come together and support ‘CAC’ it can help others in the future by raising awareness and funds to further research into finally finding a cure for cancer! Being open about my own predicament has helped others feel more comfortable in discussing this disease and whether talking to adults or children I have seen a huge change in attitude.”