We made it!
At 4:30 p.m. EST, the TYL team achieved the South Pole!
We woke up the best day yet; blue sky, not one cloud to be seen. We set off early. As we walked, we could see the South Pole start to emerge on the horizon. We had to go east and east and east while the station went by on our right.
It was like having a fine plate of Soma chocolate and not being allowed to reach out and take some. We desperately wanted to go in a straight line to get to the actual South Pole, but weren’t allowed. The reason is that we would have crossed into a Neutrino field…. Really (?!?!)
Part way through the day, Dale’s poop bag unceremoniously “dumped” his wag bag on the trail. OMG. The entire team was in hysterics.
The diversion to enter into the station according to the American rules added a period of extra distance and challenge to the day. However, we pulled into the pole and there were an awful lot of tears and hugs all around.
Thirteen-year heart recipient has now skied to the North and South Pole. To our knowledge this is a world first for a heart transplant recipient. What more can be said…Dale is my hero.
F’G INCREDIBLE. His first, last and only camping experience happened when he was only 10 years old in Argentina. This was a hell of an initiation. He was remarkable, stalwart, a team player with a singular focus. All I can say is welcome to Test Your Limits.
I would go anywhere with you. This is our fourth trip (I wonder where our 5th will be….!!??) As always Michel, you more than pulled your weight. The French-English lost in translation has provided endless humour throughout the trip. Your chef and culinary skills kept Dale and Diego well fed and able to complete the trek.
Although Dale is the most remarkable ambassador for organ donation and an inspiration to us all, my personal motivation for this trip changed on December 16th: Matt Antolin, a long-standing patient of mine and a remarkable 27-year-old man. He obtained his engineering degree despite having heart failure. Unfortunately earlier this year, his heart failure progressed, and he required a Left Ventricular Assist Device. He was listed for urgent transplant. He had a very challenging early post-operative course.
Despite this, Matt remained optimistic. When you would meet him every morning and greet him, he always had a smile on his face and despite tubes and lines and things sticking out, and some of the most challenging situations, he was always positive.
While he was in hospital, we had a lot of discussion about the Test Your Limits program because he knew about the South Pole adventure. He volunteered for and desperately wanted to go on the next Test Your Limits adventure. He went home while awaiting his heart transplant.
Unfortunately, he died suddenly on December 16 never having had the opportunity to receive a transplant, the hope and the second life that comes with transplantation.
I asked his family for a memento to take with me to the pole and they gave me his engineering ring, which I have worn around my neck.
Each time I felt tired, short of breath, miserable, I thought of Matt, his courage, his optimism… Despite a far, far greater challenge he faced, he never got down and he never gave up. Matt is a welcome member of the 2013 Test Your Limits team. He helped me achieve the pole. Thank you, Matt.
Matt’s story is but one of many patient stories of hope and challenge while waiting for a life-saving transplant. Please, register at beadonor.ca