Ryan Etter, 33, made a promise to himself and the American Cancer Society that throughout 2013 he would hike to the top of mountains throughout the Southeast, including Kennesaw Mountain, at least 365 times.
His goal? To raise money for the organization that funds cancer research and other patient services.
“I started hiking and running up (Kennesaw Mountain) to get in shape and then one day last summer I wondered if I could do it every day for a year and try to raise some money for a charity,” said Etter, owner of Clear View Pool Management in Roswell. “I kind of wanted to challenge myself to help out in any way that I could.”
Around that same time, Etter’s father-in-law, Al Sauvageau of Roswell, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so Etter decided the American Cancer Society would be his charity of choice for this personal challenge.
Sauvageau died this past April after his cancer battle, but that hasn’t deterred Etter from trying to complete his goal.
“I do think, with cancer, the more money that can be raised, the more research that can be done; every dollar really counts,” Etter said. “What I can raise will be a drop in the bucket compared to what the American Cancer Society raises every year, but if I can do my part, there’s certainly something that everybody can do to help out.”
So far, he has hiked almost 280 times up various mountains, so he is five ahead of the pace, and has raised about $1,500 of the $2,500 financial goal he set for himself this year.
Other mountains Etter has climbed include Wesser Bald and Wayah Bald in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, and Sam Knob, Black Balsam Knob, Tennent Mountain, Grassy Cove Top and Devil’s Courthouse, all in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
Gretchen Barkley, senior manager with the Cobb American Cancer Society, is intrigued by Etter’s unique way of raising money for the organization.
“It is really neat that he wants to do that,” she said. “I’ve had people who have ridden their bikes across the country or run and another kayaked a certain distance, but this is pretty monumental, so that’s pretty cool and takes dedication.”
Anyone interested in registering to raise money for the society is asked to call her office at (770) 429-1624.
“We can help them come up with ideas to help promote your fundraising,” Barkley said. “We can also tell our local volunteers about it if we’re contacted.”
Barkley said in Cobb, about $800,000 is raised each year through private donation projects like Etter’s, and their annual galas, golf tournaments and Relay for Life event.
To learn more about Etter’s fundraising efforts visit his website at 365summitsforcancer.blogspot.com, and check out the American Cancer Society online at cancer.org to make a donation to his cause or to learn more about how to become a fundraiser.