Mountain climbers raise $10K in hike for Fisher House

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***For the second year in a row, hikers took pledges and traveled to the Swiss Alps to climb a mighty mountain for the Landstuhl Fisher Houses.
This year’s hike took place over Labor Day weekend and resulted in a $10,000 donation.

Master Sergeant Rob Jackson, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, logistics executive superintendent, led the charge and said he was once again overwhelmed by the participation and donations.

“After last year’s success, I had hoped we could meet the same mark. The first Hike for Fisher House had 13 participants and raised $5,000. This year, I took 37 people who raised $10,000. We have certainly hit on something here,” he said.

The Fisher House is an organization that supports members of the armed forces in their time of need. The Fisher House homes provide lodging and all the comforts of home to troops and their family who are hospitalized for unexpected illness, disease or injury. Although more than 30 Fisher Houses have been built, the two located at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center have been integral to helping wounded soldiers of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and their families.

“The Fisher House is well known in this area as a great cause,” Sergeant Jackson explained. “They operate completely on donations and need support now more than ever.”

Once again, Sergeant Jackson relied on word of mouth and e-mail groups to spread the word. Within days, he had enough people to justify renting a bus. The group traveled to Grindelwald in the heart of the Bernese Oberland region to climb the 10,000-foot Schwarzhorn mountain. At one point, the hikers climbed high above snow drifts en route to the summit.

“Walking up steep rocks and clamoring over cliffs for three hours isn’t easy,” Sergeant Jackson said. “After a while, it comes down to mind over matter. Of course, the breathtaking views and helping those in need made it all worthwhile.”

The weather, which can be extremely volatile in the mountains, held up in their favor. Once the last hiker came down from the mountain, the group celebrated with dinner and reviewed the fundraising efforts. Every hiker raised at least $100 each and some even raised more than $700. But the generosity did not end there. The manager of their hotel provided one room and dinner free of charge, asking that the money be given to the Fisher House.

“I was speechless,” said Sergeant Jackson. “Here we have a mountain innkeeper who had never heard of the Fisher House basically make a $200 pledge just from seeing firsthand the giving-nature of these hikers. Even our bus driver returned his tip, and asked that it be donated to the Fisher House.”
All 37 travelers paid for the entire trip out of their pockets, so that 100 percent of the donations would go to those in need. After all, a trip to the Swiss Alps is the reward.

“That’s where we struck gold,” said Sergeant Jackson. “Everyone wins with this fundraiser. I’m looking forward to next year’s Hike for Fisher House III.”