Eagan, Minn. (Nov. 20, 2008) —
Forward Expeditions LLC, Chicago, Ill., announced today that they will use their upcoming historic North Pole expedition to raise awareness and funds for CaringBridge®, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization offering free personalized Web sites to people facing serious medical conditions. CaringBridge serves more than 20 million families each year and has been connecting patients, families and friends through personal Web sites since its founding in 1997. In addition to raising awareness, expedition team members are hopeful that their unique approach to the expedition.s physical and mental challenges will also inspire the families using and supporting CaringBridge.
The North Pole '09 expedition team of John Huston and Tyler Fish will attempt to become the first Americans to ski unsupported to the North Pole. Huston, age 32 of Chicago, Ill., and Fish, age 34 of Ely, Minn., will depart from the northern tip of Canada's Ellesmere Island in early March 2009 and trek 475 miles over the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. Their expedition will not receive or use any outside assistance such as airdrops, re-supplies or sled dogs. Instead, Huston and Fish will each carry 30-pound packs and pull 250-pound sleds full of gear, food, cooking fuel and navigational equipment as they negotiate the maze of ice ridges, drifts and open water that stand between them and the Pole.
In an interview with ExplorersWeb, Canadian polar explorer, Richard Weber, called skiing unsupported to the North Pole, "the hardest trek on the planet.' According to Huston, the physical challenges of their endeavor can only be surmounted if they approach them with the right mental attitude.
"The extremely rugged terrain and bitter cold of the Arctic Ocean make this particular expedition very dangerous and intimidating, and if we lose our focus we could become overwhelmed," says Huston. "We believe that by approaching this challenge with optimism, humility and responsible action, we can be successful and safely reach the Pole."
Huston and Fish are hopeful that this expedition will inspire others to embrace extreme challenges with a similar mindset. As they were preparing for their expedition in early 2008, they heard about the work of CaringBridge and felt an immediate connection. According to Fish, they were inspired by the work of CaringBridge and the medical challenges faced by families who create and use its personal Web sites.
"We thought about all of the people with CaringBridge Web sites and the health challenges they were facing, and we wondered if we could help," says Fish. "What if we could use our expedition to raise awareness and funds for CaringBridge, and make our expedition story available to the thousands of families that use its Web sites every day? Not only would this relationship give our expedition a broader purpose, but just knowing that so many people are supporting us might also help us persevere when the going gets tough."
"We believe that John and Tyler's emphasis on optimism, humility and responsible action will serve them well, and is a powerful connection to many of the families who use CaringBridge," says Sona Mehring, founder and executive director of CaringBridge. "We are honored they chose CaringBridge to be a partner in their inspiring journey to help us reach more families facing serious medical conditions and let them know about CaringBridge."
Throughout their 55-day expedition Huston and Fish will use satellite telephones to upload daily trail dispatches and photographs to the expedition Web site, www.northpole09.com. Through these dispatches CaringBridge users, students, teachers, expedition partners and fundraising donors will be able to follow the progress of the expedition. Huston and Fish expect to reach the North Pole at the end of April, shortly before the sea ice begins to break up.
Those interested in supporting CaringBridge through the North Pole '09 expedition initiative are encouraged to visit www.firstgiving.com/northpole09, where they can make a tax-deductible financial donation. Forward Expeditions' goal is to raise $100,000 for CaringBridge.
In addition to raising funds and awareness for CaringBridge, expedition project components include a climate change education program and several expedition-based research projects. The North Pole '09 expedition receives major support from Victorinox/Swiss Army, DeLorme, and Bergans of Norway. North Pole '09 is an endeavor of Huston and Fish's expedition company, Forward Expeditions. For more information visit www.northpole09.com.
The Arctic Ocean is one of the most inhospitable places on earth. When the expedition begins in early March temperatures could reach 60°F. The effect of these temperatures is exacerbated by the extreme humidity of the region. At this time of year the Artic Ocean is covered by a dynamic skin of ice that in constant motion, which causes large pans of ice to disintegrate into fields of ice rubble and can create leads of open water to form between ice floes. Huston and Fish will travel through this obstacle course by skiing, snowshoeing and when necessary will cross leads by swimming, while wearing dry suits. Over the last 20 years the area and thickness of the Arctic Ocean sea ice has been drastically reduced.
CaringBridge is a nonprofit offering many ways for people to care for each other during any type of health event. Its mission is to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier. For more information, visit www.CaringBridge.org.
Forward Expeditions is a values-based company founded by Huston and Fish for the purpose of using ambitious wilderness expeditions to inspire people to embrace challenge with optimism, humility and responsible action. After years of working together at Outward Bound in Ely, Minn., Huston and Fish are now extending their life-long passions for education and adventure to larger contexts.