Climb for a Cure: New York State of Mind


Climb for a Cure Stories
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Wendy Harpp found Fight CRC after she was diagnosed with stage III colorectal cancer in late 2019 at age 55. Her first colonoscopy at age 50 (the then-recommended screening age) was uneventful with no polyps or issues. A recommended screening five years later saved her life. Wendy had no signs or symptoms.

Wendy Harp in Fight CRC t-shirt heart with hands

A passion to create awareness  

Wendy began visiting the Fight CRC website “almost daily” to educate herself following her surgery because the information she found there was so helpful.  

As she began to learn more from and about Fight CRC, Wendy became a Resource Champion. She started sharing resources with her surgeon for distribution to his patients to bridge a “disconnect” between patients and medical professionals.  

Because Wendy didn’t want other families to go through what hers had, creating awareness became her mission.  

As Wendy was winding down her final chemo treatment, and amid the continued isolation from colorectal cancer and COVID, she discovered Fight CRC’s Climb for a Cure.  

From chemo to Climb 

In 2020, COVID put a damper on the annual Climb for a Cure, so Fight CRC creatively forged ahead with a completely virtual event and asked people to get active and out of the house. Wendy decided to participate from her home state of New York.  

Creating a Climb route for everyone 

Wendy’s daughter, Shannon, worked with her to choose a hiking route that would be achievable for Wendy, as she was just coming off her last round of treatment. Though there are dozens of amazing hikes with incredible views in the Adirondack Mountains, Shannon knew many were not realistic for her mom. 

Three days after her final intravenous chemo treatment, Wendy participated in the Climb with about a dozen family and friends in Lake George. 

Now three years later, Wendy is proud that her 2023 Climb for a Cure event will be held at the same place she has climbed three times previously.  

She contemplated changing the route that she first climbed three days post-chemo in 2020. In 2021, Wendy considered “upping” the challenge for her Climb, but her daughter suggested otherwise.  

“I thought it was important that we kept the original hike site because we had set the expectation that this was for everyone, and my mom was starting to really get some momentum for new followers. So, no matter young or old, in treatment or out of treatment, this site was inclusive to people of all different levels of health and ultimately helps our cause in being able to reach a broader audience to educate and raise awareness.”

–Shannon DeChick, Wendy's daughter 
Wendy Harpp and her son and Shannon DeChick and her baby

Wendy says the three-hour, 3.4-mile roundtrip hike is “easy,” and over the years she’s learned the importance of having a route that’s not too difficult or challenging. She is intentional about hosting an inclusive event. Her hike ensures that anyone looking for community, activity, and ability to unite in the mission can do it. 

She encourages people by telling them if she completed the hike, she is confident they can too. There will be someone with them every step of the way.  

New York Climb starting out

“I am the last one going in on the hike, and I'm the last one coming out because I want to make sure that if somebody needs to stop and rest, there's somebody behind them.”
–Wendy Harpp, stage III survivor, New York Climb host 

No one fights alone. There is a supportive community every step of the way. 

The momentum keeps building! 

In 2021, Wendy planned a Create Your Own Climb at the same New York location. The number of participants more than doubled from the previous year to roughly 40 climbers. Together they raised $5,000 to fund cutting-edge, lifesaving research. 

Last year Wendy held her first Community Climb (one of 11 advocate-led, country-wide events), which peaked with almost 100 climbers, doubling the number of participants and funds raised for research from the previous year.  
This year, Wendy’s Climb for a Cure event is happening August 5, 2023, in Lake George, New York. She is diligently preparing and has spent hours making calls and writing letters as part of her fundraising and sponsorship efforts. She also travels frequently from Florida to New York to ensure everything is ready. 

Wendy’s drive to carry out a successful event stems from what she most needed in the wake of her cancer journey. Her once-isolating colorectal cancer diagnosis has one silver lining: Meeting the colorectal cancer community, with whom she enjoys connecting and sharing stories. 

Awareness for all ages 

Until she was diagnosed, Wendy had never heard of colorectal cancer. She knows she’s not alone, and she passionately believes that it is crucial to help people feel comfortable and normal talking about their bottoms. 

To Wendy, Climb for a Cure is an extension of education and creating awareness, all with a community that is now becoming more comfortable talking about colorectal cancer – something she did not experience upon her diagnosis five years ago. 

“We are creating awareness and focusing and educating people that colorectal cancer is not just something that old people get. Colorectal cancer has now become a younger person’s disease, but everyone working together is making an impact through the hike.”

–Wendy Harpp 

A crucial piece of this awareness is the kids who are attending with their parents. The composition of New York Climb participants is about 50% of people younger than age 40. 

Wendy now has the pleasure of not only watching these kids grow up but seeing them become comfortable talking about colorectal cancer. Educating children to talk about colorectal cancer and signs and symptoms openly is personal and meaningful. 

Lasting Climb memories 

From the dozen people who joined Wendy on her first Climb in 2020 to the exponential growth today makes Wendy glow with pride.  

During last year’s Climb event, Wendy remembers standing back, surveying the crowd, thinking, “I don't know half the people here.”  

She was blown away by how long and far people traveled. Participants came from seven different states, and Wendy was in “absolute awe” seeing strangers become family over the course of a few hours.  

One of her favorite memories from her 2022 Climb event was a young group of three hikers who didn’t have a personal connection to colorectal cancer. They participated in Climb for a Cure because the company they worked for was having a donor match. They found and chose to participate in the New York Climb event. The hikers assured Wendy they would return in 2023 with more people recruited to join them. 

“I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came to the Climb and by the stories they told. Every voice matters.”

–Wendy Harpp 

Wendy enjoys matching people up on the hike, such as putting caregivers with caregivers, so that they have common things to talk about. On the return hike, she asks people to seek out others in a different circumstance, so they can talk and share personal insights. Everyone can learn from each other.  

Preparing for the big day 

Despite her nervousness of preparing for Climb for a Cure – New York, Wendy is more excited about seeing new faces in addition to last year’s climbers. Following the hike, Wendy hosts a gathering for participants to eat, drink, and get to know each other.  

“We all really get to bond, and as much as I'm looking forward to the hike, we feel so energized when we come back, and we’re so proud of ourselves. Then we go to the gathering, and we all get to connect.”

–Wendy Harpp 

Climb for a Cure celebration 

Wendy’s three children are all advocates, and one of the most encouraging things for Wendy is to see the younger people supporting the Climb. Colorectal cancer is a devastating disease, but the Climb is a celebration. 

At the end of the hike, many people jump from the rocks into the water to celebrate the victory of finishing strong or in honor of themselves or a loved one who has passed.  

New York Climb Child Jumping into the Water
 New York Climb Dog Swimming
New York Climb Girl jumping into the lake.

Proudest Moment 

From year to year, Wendy has been proud of different aspects of the Climb.  

In 2022, after the Climb event was complete, Wendy felt awe: Not of what she accomplished personally but of what the group accomplished together.  

“I was in awe of how we had all come together, and we had created this beautiful hike that we could all be together at, and share our stories, and form a bond,” said Wendy.

Another highlight of 2022 for Wendy was receiving the call from Fight CRC asking her to host a featured Climb event in 2023.  

“What I am doing is changing lives. I know I must be making an impact.”  

–Wendy Harpp

Wendy’s tips and tricks to get you ready to Climb for a Cure 

  1. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.  
  2. Whether you make it to the end of the hike is not what’s important. 
  3. Have faith in yourself. 
  4. Depend on other climbers if you need a hand. 
  5. Expect the unexpected – in a good way! 
  6. Know that more meaningful things come out of the Climb experience than reaching a summit. 
  7. Have fun!  

Register today! 

If you are ready to get active and join a Climb, raise funds for research, and connect with a community of Relentless Champions of Hope in the fight against colorectal cancer, Climb for a Cure – New York is for you! Register to claim your spot today!  

Climb for a Cure season kicked off Friday, May 26, 2023, and continues through Monday, September 4, 2023. Not everyone wants to climb a mountain – and you don’t have to! With Climb for a Cure, research funding climbs to new heights, while participants fundraise and get active. You can bike, hike, swim, walk, or do yoga – whatever is comfortable and doable for you. There are numerous ways to get involved.  

If you want to climb, you can participate in one of our three featured events in New York, California, and Colorado, or you can host or attend an event in your own community!  

Visit Fight for more information or to register. Visit for virtual support and to bond with the Climb for a Cure community all summer.