From Antarctica to Everest – Climbing 100 000 Stairs for Leukaemia Sufferers

It is four months since running in the snow of Antarctica and I’m ready to embark on my next endurance and fundraising challenge!

Next up is climbing Mt Everest…

This weekend, 21 and 22 March 2015, I will be taking part in one of the toughest (and painful) endurance events of my life – The Everest Challenge.

Ten solo athletes (I’m one of them!), and 9 relay teams (6 athletes each), will attempt to climb the equivalent height of Mt Everest in a daunting 36 hours stair climbing challenge. Each athletes / relay team will try reach the target of 200 reps (up and down) the famous Westcliff Stairs in Johannesburg. This will involve climbing 100 000 stairs over a total distance of about 100km, 10 600m ascent and 10 600m descent!

I am taking on this challenge in support of The Sunflower Fund, a prominent South African non-profit organisation at the forefront of responding to the plight of leukaemia sufferers, mostly under the age of 21 years, who are facing a difficult and uncertain future.

Every year thousands of South Africans are diagnosed with leukaemia – a cancer of cells in the bone marrow (the cells which develop into blood cells) and other life threatening blood disorders. For many patients unable to stay in remission with chemotherapy alone, a bone marrow stem cell transplant becomes a life-saving treatment option, but only if they can find a perfect donor match.

There is a great synergy between the challenge of climbing 100 000 stairs and the challenge that leukemia patients face when searching for a life-saving bone marrow donor match. The chance of finding a matching donor is only 1:100 000 and this requires pure endurance.

The Everest Challenge is the brainchild of Ray Funnell who received a lifesaving bone marrow stem cell transplant from his brother in 2007 after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia. He realised that he was fortunate to have found a match and now supports others find a perfect donor match by raising awareness and funds for The Sunflower Fund.

The funds raised as part of The Everest Challenge will enable The Sunflower Fund to educate, recruit and pay the test costs for potential bone marrow stem cell donors to join the South African Bone Marrow Registry.

My appeal to you is to support my fundraising efforts for The Sunflower Fund by donating R10 per stair towards the overall fundraising target of R1 million (R10 x 100 000 stairs). You can sponsor as many stairs as you like!

Every R2000 raised will cover the tissue typing tests to get one new donor on the registry.

You can contribute in five great ways:

  • Donate via EFT – directly to The Sunflower Fund (details below) or
  • Donate via credit card – or
  • SMS “Stairs” to 40555 and make a R20 donation or
  • Just start sharing this post on your social networks, with your family, friends and work colleagues or
  • Call 0800 12 10 82 and find out how you can become a stem cell donor.

Follow updates about the event on Facebook –, and Twitter –

Your donation will enable The Sunflower Fund to give those diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders hope and a chance of survival.

Thank you in advance for your support.



Banking details:

The Sunflower Fund


Account Number: 4051 834 719

Branch Code: 632005

Reference: Everest / David Barnard / Depositor’s name.

Kindly e-mail proof of payment to Lauren Corlett at

The Sunflower Fund will issue Section 18 (A) Tax Certificates and BEE certificates on request.

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