Rob Hill and Clinton Shard both have Crohn's disease, but don't let their illness slow them down. They will be scaling Mount Everest to 'change attitudes with altitude.'
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Rebecca: Scaling the tallest peaks on all seven continents seems like a difficult enough tasks to complete. Doing it with a chronic disease seems impossible. Hi I'm Rebecca and welcome to watchmojo.com. Today we’re speaking with two men who are proving it is possible by finally tackling Everest. Tell us about the IDEAS program. Rob Hill: IDEAS is the Intestinal Disease Education Awareness Society. We started adventures, series of tracks that take place around the world. The first one was Mt. Kilimanjaro and it was just giving people the availability regardless of living with an intestinal disease. There were four of us that went up the mountain all had either Crohns Colitis or inflammatory bowel syndrome and everyone made the summit. Clinton Shard: It was just great to be able to share it with these people and raise awareness for IBD and put on kind of more of a global level. Rebecca: What are inflammatory bowel diseases? Rob Hill: Inflammatory bowel disease is inflammation of the digestive tract. Clinton Shard: I was having symptoms like diarrhea. I was very lethargic and eventually I went to my GP and he told me to go straight to the emergency because I was just in so much and that’s when I was diagnosed with Crohns disease. Rebecca: What affect do IBD’s have on you life other than your physical health? Clinton Shard: For me being school-aged I couldn’t go to school for a lot of times. You no longer can really be active due to the fact that your body can’t take nutrients, so it’s virtually eating itself. Rebecca: How did you two come together? Clinton Shard: I initially met Rob at an IBD education day, but I really got to know him after two months hospital stay. I was quite down and he really kind of brought me back up and inspired me to get out there and do something. Rob Hill: Having been in the state where Clinton was and I saw him in his worse moments, and he shared that with me, his family shared that with me very open with me which is an inspiration in itself. It seems where he’s come from to where he is now and being more open with the disease and willing to speak about it in public forum. You have to be able to pass the torch to someone and that’s what I see in Clinton. Rebecca: Why don’t you tell us more about the initiative to scale the seven summits? Rob Hill: When I went through the illness obviously I went through what everyone goes through—the depression, anger, the why-me and at a certain point when I became physically and mentally strong enough I said, I know why me because I'm willing to step out and play a role in someone that’s going to speak about the illness and do it at a totally different level. Rebecca: What are the seven summits? Rob Hill: Well the seven summits are the highest peak on each of the seven continents. I’ll go through in the order that I have accomplished them so far. Elbrus which is in Russia it was the highest one in Europe and then Kilinmanjaro in Africa, Aconcagua in Argentina and South America, Denali or Mount McKinley in North America. Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia and then Vinson Massif in Antarctica and then obviously last but the least Mt. Everest. Rebecca: Would you say this is a feat that is feasible for anyone with an IBD? Rob Hill: It is a possibility for everyone. The timing is not always going to be right. My last attempt on Everest, the timing was poor and I ended up having an issue with the Crohns. We’re always going to run into difficulties but trying to stay positive and for me I know the mountains there. It’s not going to go anywhere so I can always go back. Clinton Shard: It really made me realize that the sky is the limit. I can do really whatever I want. I hope that it showed people struggling with IBD or really any illness that they can overcome any obstacle that’s put in their way. Rebecca: Thank you very much.

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