• March 6Donate to Michael Gutierrez: Https://www.stbaldricks.org/participants/mgg2001

Since September 10, 2002, my life has been a roller coaster of events such as traveling the world, climbing mountains, crossfit competitions, soccer games, eating weird food, weddings, funerals, and people walking in and walking out of my life. I was born in Buffalo, New York, where my family and I lived for 5 years. My parents were in the process of finishing residency when I came along, so as a baby I was always up and going with them. We moved to Cumming, GA and when I was 5, my parents quickly got jobs at hospitals near Vickery Village. The neighborhood was always alive and we made lots of family friends that we still go on vacations and random lake days with. A few years ago my parents built a house on the lake, which is where I live now. Throughout my time living in Cumming, I traveled to numerous countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Mexico, Israel, Japan, Jamaica, and England. My family is very involved in fitness, so we decided to take on Mt. Fuji in Japan. We arrived in Tokyo after a 16-hour flight and experienced the thrill of the crowded city; day after day we hopped onto the bullet train and saw all the major cities, temples, gardens, and markets. When it came to the night of the climb, we took a two-hour bus ride to the foot of the mountain, and the temperature dropped from 80 degrees to about 20. We put on our layers and got to climbing; it took around 12 hours to get through the rock cliffs and windy gravel hills. The higher we climbed the colder it got and the more layers we had to put on.  Once we reached the top, it was covered in snow and the wind was about 70 mph so we had to stay low in order to stay standing. I’ve never been so cold in my life and I was eager to go back down my my dad insisted on watching the sunrise from above the clouds, so we got close and shivered for about an hour. When it was finally time to go back down, which was harder then the climb up, we couldn’t because the wind was knocking us down and I fell off the rock wall. It calmed down a little bit so we slowly made our way down taking off layers as we went. I stopped at a base to go to the restroom and my dad kept going thinking that I would follow, but I ended up going the wrong way and getting lost, so the climb down took a much longer time than the journey to the top. The overall experience was slightly awful, but I pushed myself to make it to the next base and before I knew it I had been to the top of Japan back to the bottom. I was genuinely sore for a week after the climb but I trained every day anyway. Because I am a crossfit athlete, I get almost no break from lifting so it was guaranteed that the hotels we stayed in had fully-equipped gyms. While traveling through Japan, we walked everywhere, and it was no help that I could barely feel my legs because of my workouts. As a person, I find myself unable to give up once I’ve started something, I welcome challenges with open arms, and I strive to be as ambitious as possible to accomplish a grand amount of things within my lifetime. This story of my climb is a direct metaphor for who I am, I pushed myself to make it to the top and check off a new accomplishment, but my resilience came to show on the way down. By getting lost and continuing until the foot of the mountain without a panic attack, I was able to realize the things I can overcome and use this experience to be successful in school, to get a lifting PR in a competition, to beat the person I’m racing next to in a soccer game, and to not only be physically strong, but also strong mentally.

Maya Hogan, Staff Writer

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