When Alex Pancoe successfully beat brain cancer nine years ago, he marked his victory in a death-defying and incredibly Chicago way.
He embarked on a journey to climb the seven summits - the highest mountains on each of the seven continents – and fly a Chicago Cubs “W” flag at their peaks. And he did it all to help children battling cancer.
Each time the expert-level climber summits, he raises money for brain tumor research and kids at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“Everyone [at Lurie Children’s Hospital] is climbing their own metaphorical Everest,” Pancoe said. “I don’t consider myself a very special guy, I’m just a hard worker. So, if I can climb Everest, I’d like to think it inspires people.”
Pancoe started a non-profit Peaks of Mind, where the Cubs fan scales the highest peaks around the globe, dedicating each summit to a child.
“[The W flag has] now been to four of the seven summits,” he said. “A lot of places.”
The W, he said, for winning against all odds and wanting your life to count.
“Without people like Alex, funds wouldn’t be raised and trials wouldn’t go ahead,” said Lucy Dennis, whose 2-year-old son River is benefitting from Pancoe’s efforts.
Pancoe leaves for the Himalayas next week, where he’s climbing for River.
Donations for Pancoe's efforts can be made here.