Back To Experience


Wednesday, September 7, 2016
We take a large amount of pride in our history of outspoken advocacy for conservation and access causes, as well as in our support of conservation, education and recreation groups on the front lines.

HERA Foundation

HERA (Health, Empowerment, Research and Advocacy) is a unique foundation that gives at least 90% of money raised directly to ovarian cancer research and to aide women battling the disease. Black Diamond is the primary sponsor for HERA's Climb for Life, an annual event held on our campus with the 11th Annual Utah event happening September 14-16, 2012. We caught up with HERA's executive director, Meg Steitz, to find out more about the foundation and their flagship event. 

Can you briefly describe how HERA came to be?

The HERA Women's Cancer Foundation was established in 2002 by Ms. Sean Patrick of Carbondale, Colorado. After being diagnosed in 1997 with ovarian cancer, Ms. Patrick founded the HERA Women's Cancer Foundation to help spread awareness of the disease and to empower women to take control of their health. An outdoor enthusiast, Patrick saw rock climbing as a metaphor and started the first Climb4LifeSM event in Salt Lake City, Utah.

And then can you briefly describe how Climb4Life came to how it's evolved over its lifetime?

The original Climb4Life event was conceived in 2001 while Ms. Patrick was recovering from her seventh ovarian cancer surgery. She felt a rock climbing event would put a different face on ovarian cancer and get people involved in the cause. Realizing the events would raise awareness in women who are healthy and active, Patrick saw greater potential: the event would enable women to be introduced to the sport and its physical and mental benefits.

Hera Climb4Life

The Climb4Life Series provides a forum for empowering women to become active and take control of their health while promoting awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Climb4Life is a great way to turn your passion into action to find a cure for ovarian cancer. We welcome women, men, children and families - all abilities, all ages, all skill levels - to take part. Now in its eleventh year, the Climb4Life Series has expanded to four cities (Boston, Massachusetts; Boulder, Colorado; Washington, D.C. and Salt Lake City, Utah) and has evolved to include hiking, yoga and other activities.

What successes have HERA and Climb4Life notched in the past few years?

HERA's mission is to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research, and Awareness. The Climb4Life weekends are HERA's signature fundraising events. Of the funds raised, 88% supports HERA's programs such as the scientific research grants and the community grants that raise awareness about the disease in novel and unusual ways.

HERA funds "outside the box" cutting-edge research grants to scientists at nationally respected medical institutions such as The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston. In so doing, HERA attracts young researchers and expands the scientific understanding of ovarian cancer while improving the lives of those battling the disease. Projects funded focus on mechanisms of ovarian cancer development, growth, and treatment.

In 2011, HERA established the Sean Patrick Multidisciplinary Collaborative Grant that encourages two (or more) scientists with different yet complementary skills to work collaboratively in addressing the ovarian cancer problem. HERA also funds a series of annual community grants to other non-profits around the country that are raising awareness about the disease. Since 2002, HERA has awarded $802,750 in scientific research grants and community grants.

Hera Climb4Life

What are the biggest challenges that exist in the fight against ovarian cancer?

One of the biggest challenges in the fight against ovarian cancer is lack of awareness. Currently, there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer. Pap smears test only for cervical cancer. Ovarian cancer symptoms are hard to pinpoint because they are often mistaken for symptoms of other diseases. Unreliable detection methods and lack of awareness of symptoms, even within the medical community, lead to a later diagnosis when a woman's chance of survival drops significantly. Ovarian cancer is one of the most lethal, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2012, it is estimated that 22,280 will be diagnosed and 15,550 will die from ovarian cancer.

How important is support from Black Diamond to HERA and the Climb4Life events?

Black Diamond's support is integral to our cause. BD has hosted the Climb4Life Utah weekend since the beginning, and we are so grateful for the infrastructure, the support, and the involvement of BD's employees.  Black Diamond is a key, strategic partner in presenting the Climb4Life Utah and in HERA's fight against ovarian cancer.