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Bolingbrook hair dresser takes on mountain to raise money for cancer fight

Published: Friday, May 9, 2014 3:19 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Lorae Mundt)
Bolingbrook resident Nancy Klimah climbs the Swallow Cliff stairs in Palos Park on Saturday. Lorae Mundt for Shaw Media
Caption
(Lorae Mundt)
Bolingbrook resident Nancy Klimah prepares for her training session at the Swallow Cliff stairs in Palos Park on Saturday. Lorae Mundt for Shaw Media

BOLINGBROOK – Nancy Klimah has run marathons and done triathlons, but in June she will be reaching new heights.

The 57-year-old Bolingbrook resident and hairdresser will climb Mount Shasta in California as part of a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Fund.

Klimah said she has been cutting hair for more than 30 years and has had many clients with cancer.

“I have shaved way too many women’s hair,” she said.

She could not sit back and watch anymore.

Then she found out about the Climb Against the Odds, an annual event where a team of men and women climb the 14,179-foot mountain in northern California.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is big,’ ” she said. “But I wanted to do something big. These men and women [with cancer] fight every day.”

One of the people Klimah is doing the climb for is her sister-in-law, Arlene Pappalardo.

Pappalardo, a three-year breast cancer survivor, said she is proud of Klimah but was surprised that she wanted to climb a mountain.

“First of all, I thought she was a nut because she’s such a go-getter,” she said.

As Pappalardo learned more about the event, she became more excited.

“I even thought about doing the climb, but I couldn’t raise that much money,” she said.

Klimah’s goal was to raise $6,000, but she said she has already collected $11,000, mostly through friends and family. She hopes to raise more money by holding a garage sale May 17 and 18.

Klimah’s other work has been training to climb the mountain. She said it has been hard to simulate hiking up a mountain with the local flat terrain.

She has worked with her “mountain mentor,” Tarek Husayni, who has her climbing up stairs while wearing a weighted backpack.

“Without his guidance, patience and humor, I would not be where I am strength-wise,” she said.

“He said, ‘With a name like Klimah, you have to climb this mountain.’ ”

Klimah said she does not know how she will react when she has to face a real mountain, but expects the experience to make her more grateful for her life.

“I truly believe it’s going to change me,” she said. “I truly believe it’s going to go deep into my soul.”

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