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DL native to climb Mt. Hood for cancer

This summer more than 100 people are climbing mountains to bring awareness to breast cancer. One of those climbers is Detroit Lakes native Bryan Woodward.

There will be six mountain peaks being sought in the Pacific Northwest, Eastern Europe and Africa. It is the 10th anniversary of the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer, presented by Safeway.

Woodward and his team, Minnesota NIce Climbers (combination of Nice and Ice), will be climbing Mt. Hood, which stands at 11,237 feet, in Oregon June 9-10. Other mountains being climbed are Mt. Adams, Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier, all in Washington, Mt. Elbrus in Russia and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Woodward, who graduated from Detroit Lakes High School in 1996, said he decided to do the climb when his friends Mark Kupfer and Mike Sand decided that they wanted to do it on account of Kupfer's mother dying of cancer. This will be his first climb.

This year, the climb will likely raise $500,000. Since it's inception, the fund-raiser has garnered $2.25 million. In order to participate in the climb, each climber had to raise a certain amounts of funds, according to which mountain they will climb. Woodward is required to raise $3,000.

Minnesota NIce Climbers plans to dedicate their climb and money in memory of one of Woodward's teammate's mother, who died of breast cancer at age 49 in 2003. Those on his team include Mike Sand, Sara Kohn and Mark Kupfer.

"The background of Climb to Fight Breast Cancer participants varies," said Kristen Grey Sanders, associate director of special events at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which organizes the climb.

"Some are first-time climbers who recognize the physical challenge. Others see it as an opportunity to raise funds for a very worthy cause while being in the outdoors, doing an activity they enjoy."

Woodward, who now lives in Burnsville, has family in the Detroit Lakes area, his father and step-mom, David and Nancy Woodward. Woodward is a member of the National Guard, and said he loves the outdoors, so this climb is his opportunity to climb and raise money for a good cause in the meantime.

"I think that reaching the summit will be the highlight of the climb," Woodward said. "We are supposed to hit it around sunrise (start climbing at midnight) so it should be a beautiful view of the area. Other than that, I welcome the challenge of climbing the mountain, the camaraderie of our team, and absorbing the beauty that it beholds."

To prepare for the climb, Woodward has been out hiking, taking a few extra pounds along for the ride.

"Other than my normal workouts, I have added in going on hikes carry a pack that has around 30-40 pounds of stuff in it," he said. "This weekend we are hoping to get out to Taylors Falls near the Cities and get some good hiking in."

Besides doing the climb for his friend's mother, Woodward is planning to dedicate his hike to his uncle, who is fighting terminal cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

"I hope that this helps families that have suffered from cancer and eventually cure it," he said. "My hope is that no one will have to suffer like he (his uncle) has. I hope that he makes it until I climb as I am dedicating my climb to him."

Woodward said he and the rest of his climbing group have already tentatively agreed to do the climb again in the future.

"Hopefully, we will have more time to raise the $3,000 minimum to qualify, as I believe most of us are going to fall short on that amount and have to donate the rest ourselves."

For more information on the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer, or to donate to the Minnesota NIce Climbers, visit