Penn Charter students, faculty, families and friends came out en masse for the first annual Big Climb Philly on Saturday. The 200-member Penn Charter Quakers team climbed 1,092 steps to the 43rd floor of the Comcast tower and was rewarded with cheers, smiles and an incredible view of Philadelphia. Visit flickr for more photos of the event.
The climbers, some looking relieved the 43 flights were behind and others looking like they could do it again, lifted their arms in victory as they emerged from the stairwell, and accepted high fives and hugs for their efforts.
Big Climb Philly raised more than $300,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Penn Charter climbers raised nearly $100,000 of that total.
Penn Charter freshman Duncan Glew was involved in the Big Climb Seattle prior to moving to Philadelphia for treatment of leukemia at CHOP two years ago and he spearheaded the efforts to bring the Big Climb to Philadelphia. Opening the climb early Saturday, Duncan thanked all the climbers, especially the PC team, for coming to support a great cause.
“I’d just like to take a moment to pause and remember those who are in the middle of their fight with cancer now, those who have been left with debilitating side effects of traditional chemotherapy and especially those who did not survive,” Duncan said. “It is these people for whom we are here today. We are the lucky ones and that is why we carry the responsibility to cure cancer.
Two days earlier, Penn Charter’s youngest students traversed 1,092 steps around campus – up and down the bleachers, through stairwells and hallways, along pathways and around the track – in support of Little Big Climb, a spinoff of Big Climb Philly. See more photos of the fun afternoon on flickr.
The Lower School event was initiated by parents inspired by Duncan and his efforts to launch Big Climb Philly. Knowing that the climb to the top of the Comcast tower was too rigorous for the littlest Penn Charter students, the parents designed Little Big Climb as a way Lower School students could contribute.
Service learning is embedded in the curriculum of the pre-k to 12 Quaker school but, in the lower grades, classes usually pick individual service projects.
"This was the first time I can remember that we came together around a single cause," said Sonia Duprez, a fifth grade teacher who helped pull off the effort involving seven grades (pre-K to 5) and almost 300 students. "The event was such fun and showed our solidarity and the spirit of community."
In advance of Little Big Climb, teachers, Duncan and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society collaborated on an age-appropriate informational assembly about the disease and efforts to find a cure. Duncan told students of his journey as a leukemia patient and focused on the people who helped him. Students were invited to dress as cancer cells and an LLS representative provided the most basic lesson on the physiology of cancer.
The Little Big Climb event began on the big kids' track on a glorious spring afternoon, with a parent DJ playing music to warm up the crowd. Everyone enjoyed ice pops at the finish line.
Both the Little Big Climb and Big Climb Philly were days filled with community, hard work, remembrance and joy.